Chilean Dictatorship (2015 movie)

This is a PDF with activities for teachers and students

The Colony, is a 2015 historical romantic thriller film directed by Florian Gallenberger, produced by Benjamin Herrmann, written by Torsten Wenzel and Gallenberger, and starring Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, and Michael Nyqvist. The film is set against the backdrop of the 1973 Chilean military coup and the real “Colonia Dignidad”, a notorious cult in the South of Chile, led by German lay preacher Paul Schäfer. The film is an international co-production of companies in the United Kingdom, Germany, Luxembourg, and France.


In 1973, Daniel and Lena, a young German couple, become entangled in a Chilean military coup at a time when supporters of deposed President Salvador Allende are getting rounded up by the military under General Augusto Pinochet. When Daniel is abducted by Pinochet’s secret police DINA, Lena tries to find and save her boyfriend.[5] She tracks him to a sealed-off organization called “Colonia Dignidad”, which presents itself as a charitable mission run by a lay preacher, Paul Schäfer. Lena joins the organization to rescue her boyfriend, only to learn it is a cult from which no one has ever escaped. She later finds Daniel, who acts disabled to be

overlooked. Daniel discovers the organization is also an illegal operations center for DINA. Lena and Daniel attempt to escape from Colonia Dignidad along with Ursel, a pregnant nurse. Ursel is killed and both Lena and Daniel escape to the West German embassy. Staff from the embassy betray them but the lovers exit the country by air, with incriminating photographic evidence against Colonia Dignidad.


Emma Watson as Lena, a young woman who joins the cult Colonia Dignidad to rescue her boyfriend Daniel.

Daniel Brühl as Daniel, Lena’s boyfriend, a West German citizen kidnapped by General Augusto Pinochet’s secret police DINA.

Michael Nyqvist as Paul Schäfer, the leader of Colonia Dignidad.


This is a PDF with activities for teachers and students

Before watching the movie questions

1. Chile: ¿Dónde está Chile? ¿Qué saben de Chile? ¿Places? ¿People?

2. Dictatorship: ¿Qué es una dictadura? ¿Por qué sucede?

A dictatorship is an authoritarian form of government, characterized by a single leader or group of leaders and little or no toleration for political pluralism or independent programs or media. According to other definitions, democracies are regimes in which “those who govern are selected through contested elections”; therefore dictatorships are “not democracies”.

3. Augusto Pinochet: ¿Quién es? ¿Qué hizo? Por qué?

Was a Chilean general, politician and dictator of Chile between 1973 and 1990 who remained the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army until 1998 and was also President of the Government Junta of Chile between 1973 and 1981. Pinochet assumed power in Chile following a United States-backed coup d’état on 11 September 1973 that overthrew the democratically elected socialist Unidad Popular government of President Salvador Allende and ended civilian rule. The support of the United States was crucial to the coup and the consolidation of power afterward. Pinochet had been promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Army by Allende on 23 August 1973, having been its General Chief of Staff since early 1972. In December 1974, the ruling military junta appointed Pinochet Supreme Head of the nation by joint decree, although without the support of one of the coup’s instigators, Air Force General Gustavo Leigh. Following his rise to power, Pinochet persecuted leftists, socialists, and political critics, resulting in the executions of from 1,200 to 3,200 people, the internment of as many as 80,000 people and the torture of tens of thousands.According to the Chilean government, the number of executions and forced disappearances was 3,095. For most of the 1990s, Chile was the best- performing economy in Latin America, though the legacy of Pinochet’s reforms continues to be in dispute. Pinochet was arrested under an international arrest warrant on a visit to London on 10 October 1998 in connection with numerous human rights violations.

4. Salvador Allende: ¿Quién es? ¿Qué le pasó?

Was a Chilean democratic socialist politician and physician, President of Chile from 1970 until 1973, and head of the Popular Unity political coalition government; he was the first ever Marxist to be elected president in a country with liberal democracy. On 11 September 1973, the military moved to oust Allende in a coup d’état supported by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). As troops surrounded La Moneda Palace, he gave his last speech vowing not to resign. Later that day, Allende committed suicide with an AK-47 rifle. General Augusto Pinochet refused to return authority to a civilian government, and Chile was later ruled by a military junta that was in power up until 1990, ending more than four decades of uninterrupted democratic governance. The military junta that took over dissolved the Congress of Chile, suspended the Constitution, and began a persecution of alleged dissidents, in which at least 3,095 civilians disappeared or were killed.

5. Colonia dignidad: ¿Qué es? ¿Dónde está?

Colonia Dignidad (“Dignity Colony”) was an isolated colony of Germans and Chileans established in post-World War II Chile by emigrant Germans which became infamous for the internment, torture, and murder of dissidents during the military regime of General Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s while under the leadership of German fugitive Paul Schäfer. The name of the settlement was changed to Villa Baviera in 1991. Located in a remote area in the Maule Region of central Chile, Colonia Dignidad was ~35 km southeast of the city of Parral, on the north bank of the Perquilauquén River. The full name of the colony from the 1950s was Sociedad Benefactora y Educacional Dignidad (“Charitable and Educational Society ‘Dignity’ “). At its largest, Colonia Dignidad was home to some three hundred German and Chilean residents, and covered 137 square kilometers (53 sq mi).

6. Paul Schaefer: ¿Quién es? ¿Qué hizo? ¿Por qué?

Schäfer born in Bonn, Germany, and joined the Hitler Youth movement at a young age. He served as a medic in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He set up a children’s home and Baptist ministry. In 1959, he created the Private Social Mission, purportedly a charitable organization. That same year, he was charged with sexually abusing two children and fled West Germany with some of his followers.

Schäfer resurfaced in Chile in 1961, where the government at the time, led by conservative President Jorge Alessandri, granted him permission to create the Dignidad Beneficent Society on a farm outside of Parral. Schäfer disappeared on 20 May 1997, fleeing child sex abuse charges, this time filed by Chilean authorities under Christian Democrat President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle after 26 children who went to the commune’s free clinic and school reported abuse. On 24 April 2010, Schäfer died at the Santiago de Chile’s Ex-Penitentiary’s Hospital due to a heart failure. He was 88 years old. It was later revealed that he was suffering from a severe cardiac illness.

After watching the movie questions

This is a PDF with activities for teachers and students

  1. ¿Qué te pareció la película?
  2. ¿En qué contexto politico se desarrolla la historia?
  3. ¿Dónde sucede? ¿Qué pasa?
  4. ¿Qué te parece el actuar de Lena? ¿Por qué se fue a Colonia?
  5. ¿Qué piensas de Colonia Dignidad? (el lugar/place)
  6. ¿Qué aprendiste con esta película?


  • Debate: favor y contra de la dictadura
  • Debate: favor y contra de la decision de Lena de ir a Colonia
  • Essay: Write about Colonia Dignidad ¿Por qué hay lugares así?

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