Colonia : A movie about the Colonia Dignidad

Based on true events, “Colonia” takes place in Chile following the military coup of 1973 and Pinochet’s rise to power. A young couple, Daniel and Lena (played by Daniel Brûhl and Emma Watson), find themselves mixed up with a group of protestors opposing the coup’s repressive regime.

After the newly formed secret police arrest Daniel, he’s brought to a secret camp, Colonia Dignidad, the sadly infamous agricultural colony, which also served as a prison and place of torture. Throughout the prison’s forty-year history, only five people managed to escape… When Lena fails to receive help from the authorities, she decides to do everything she can to help Daniel—including working her way into the colony in hopes of finding him.

The movie takes us inside Colonia Dignidad, a secret camp run by a former Nazi who uses a Catholic front to hide a cult, which exploits the individuals held there. The colony’s residents are separated into three groups (men, women, and children) and any communication between groups is strictly forbidden. The separation and confinement allow the preacher-guru, Paul Schäfer (played by Michael Nyquist), to impose his rule with the help of several guards devoted to his cause. Everything is planned and organized according to extremely strict rules.

In the film, viewers discover along with Lena the horrifying truth about the oppression and various abuses inflicted on the colony’s residents: women forced into submission to the “guru,” pedophilia, and many other forms of psychological “destruction.” Additionally, the basement areas are equipped with sophisticated devices dedicated to physical torture.

The true story behind the horrors of Colonia Dignidad reveal the systems that are used to achieve and maintain psychological and physical control over individuals. Watching “Colonia” reminds us that these events took place in a not-too-distant past… And that, to this day, many of the victims are still in shock following the trauma they experienced at the colony.