Argentina, 1985 ending explained — how did Julio César Strassera prove his case?

By Marc Miller
Published: October 22, 2022

October 2022 saw the release of the Prime Video film Argentina, 1985 — we explain the ending, and it will contain spoilers.

The Trial of the Juntas was the first civil courtroom and judicial trial of the members of the de facto military government that ran the Argentina dictatorship. Known as the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional, the reign lasted for seven years. From 1976 to 1983, the military leaders were responsible for the torture, forced disappearance, and murder of almost 30,000 Argentinian citizens. All were primarily political dissidents who disagreed with their governmental rule.

This was the first trial of its kind since the Second World War, where members of the Nazi party were put on trial at Nuremberg. The dictatorship was actually four military juntas (a government led by military leaders). The last “junta” was responsible for relinquishing power back to the people and a democratic government. However, they conveniently wrote in the Self-Amnesty Law of 1983. Why is this important? Because they were now conveniently excluded from past crimes.

Before the trial and prosecution, the group also began to destroy evidence and records of their crimes against humanity. There is a scene where a mother, during the trial, asks where her daughter is, and her answer is they do not know. This raises the question if the evidence destroyed was also people who were being held against their will. The military leaders on trial were the following: Orlando Ramón Agosti, Jorge Anaya, Basilio Lami DozoOmar Graffigna, Leopoldo Galtieri, Armando Lambruschini, Emilio Eduardo Massera, Roberto Eduardo Viola, and Jorge Rafael Videla.

The story follows Chief Prosecutor César Strassera (Ricardo Darin) and his young up-and-coming second chair, Luis Moreno Ocampo (Pedro Lanzani), who prosecute the offenders. They are under heavy scrutiny, receiving daily death threats, and their lives are filled with paranoia.

Argentina, 1985 ending explained

After a stirring closing argument by Julio César Strassera asking the judges to find humanity and justice by convicting these military leaders because this may be their last opportunity. The crowd erupts with joy, clapping, cheers, and hugs. The director also, at this point, folds in actual archival footage of the celebration, pointing to the scene’s authenticity. Strassera is now considered a national hero in the press. However, a few days later, the sentencing does not reflect Strassera’s hopes. The sentences handed out are as follows (and according to the film):

  • Orlando Ramón Agosti — 4 years and 6 months
  • Jorge Anaya — acquitted (later Spain sought extradition for his role in the “Dirty War” for crimes against humanity, but died under house arrest in 2008).
  • Basilio Lami Dozo — acquitted (later convicted for his role in the Falklands War but given a presidential pardon in 1990)
  • Omar Graffigna — acquitted (2016 was retried and sentenced to 25 years for the “imprisonment for the abduction, torture, and murder of the married couple.”)
  • Leopoldo Galtieri — acquitted (convicted later of the mishandling of the Falklands War)
  • Armando Lambruschini — 8 years
  • Emilio Eduardo Masser — Life sentence
  • Roberto Eduardo Viola — 17 years
  • Jorge Rafael Videla — life sentence

The ones acquitted were later gathered to face time for their part in the Falklands War. Strassera realizes there is still work to do after talking to his son. His mantra, which is not a cinematic conjure, is “Never Again.” Strassera and his team of young associates convicted over 1,000 more people of crimes against humanity, and according to the film, they are still searching for and trying people today.

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