The Settlers (2023) | Transcript

Chile, early 20th century. José Menéndez, a wealthy landowner, hires three horsemen to mark out the perimeter of his extensive property and open a route to the Atlantic Ocean across vast Patagonia.
The Settlers (2023)

The Settlers (2023)
Original Spanish Title:
Los Colonos
Directed by: Felipe Gálvez Haberle
Written by: Felipe Gálvez Haberle, Antonia Girardi, Mariano Llinás (collaboration)
Starring: Camilo Arancibia, Mark Stanley, Benjamin Westfall, Alfredo Castro, Marcelo Alonso, Sam Spruell, Mishell Guaña, Adriana Stuven

Plot: At the end of the 19th century, while Argentina and Chile were still vying to divide Tierra del Fuego by ratifying its borders, with the total support of the governments, the landowners amassed immense fortunes thanks to sheep farming. José Menéndez was the richest and most powerful, greedily and firmly managing his business. To “protect” himself from the “cursed” Indigenous people, he tasked one of his overseers, the former English soldier Alexander MacLellan, who wouldn’t hesitate to shoot workers who got injured on the job (“a man without an arm means one less man, understand?”), to find a safe passage and lands towards the Atlantic for his flocks. Because the problem was the sheep theft (for eating) that the Indigenous Selknam communities committed against him. Accompanying him was a mestizo, skilled with a rifle, and against his will (“sailors and cowboys are not the same thing, the same animal”), an American mercenary from Texas, imposed by Menéndez. Distrustful of each other, the fierce Englishman, the arrogant and ruthless American, and the silent “mestizo,” despised and suspected by the two in different ways (“half Indigenous and half white, you never know who they’ll shoot at”), ventured into an unknown land, among bizarre encounters, a white dehumanization that was mad and cruel, gratuitous massacres. A true journey into the darkness of a mismatched group.

* * *

“Your sheep (…) now become so great devourers, and so wild, that they eat up, and swallow down the very men themselves.”

Thomas More, Utopia, 1516


I’m good! I’m good!

It’s nothing, it’s nothing!

Go back to work!

It’s just an arm!

It’s just an arm…

In this place, a man without an arm is one man less, you understand?

I need two men to bury this body. You and you!

Back to work!



Good evening, Lieutenant.

Good evening, Don José.

How are things going here?

How are the fences coming?

We lost another man today.

One man less is not a problem.

The Indians are the problem.

In Porvenir, they cut the fences and ate all my animals.

All my sheep.

Like beasts.

Like the beasts they are.

I want you to find a route to the Atlantic for my sheep.

A safe and quick route, Lieutenant.

For this, you will have to clean this island.

But I need proof.

I will need one man.

Just one?

Yes, sir.


Another one!




Another one!



Another one!



This is your man?


He is a local expert.

He will make a decent guide, he’s good with a rifle.

Look at him, and look at him.

This is Bill.

I brought him from Mexico.

They say he can smell an Indian from miles away.

He will go with you on your mission.

If you say so…

You will thank me.

I wish you a good journey.

We do things differently, Lieutenant.

Such as?

Look at this enormous land.

Three men.

Don’t it seem absurd?

No, it doesn’t.

Ain’t a lieutenant supposed to have his own unit?

When there is discipline, one good man is worth more than ten badly trained.

Yeah well, I don’t know Chileans,

but I know others like him.

Like him?

Half Indian, half white.

And what about them?

You never know who they’re going to shoot.

There are many things said about you.

But I haven’t seen anything yet.

Yeah, well…

They ain’t say a damn thing about you.

On a trip like this, you’re supposed to eat meat, not fish.

When you ain’t got cow, we best be eating one of those big birds.

You ever had ostrich meat, Lieutenant?

Yes, I have.

It’s almost like cow.

Eat up.

You’d be doing us all a favor if you ate the whole Goddamn mess right there too.

In Texas we never eat where we sleep.

Why is that?

’Cause it’s dangerous.

We shouldn’t be leaving traces.

What are you afraid of, Bill?

I ain’t afraid.

It ain’t fear, you hear me?

It is respect.

Them Indians…

Them Comanche…

They’re real good trackers.

And you have no idea how much they dislike

outsiders roaming their lands.

These aren’t their lands.

They belong to Menéndez.

Well, Indians don’t know nothing about property, now do they?

Ain’t that right, boy?

There are things you learn.

In Chiloé, priests teach the natives about God.

They teach them not to steal, to respect your fellow man.

The problem is when they don’t want to learn, when they have their own god.

Who the fuck was talking to you?

I think he’s sayin’ that we should have brought one of them priests.

That would’ve saved ourselves some work.

No time for priests.

Me and God, we already have an understanding.

Good morning, soldier.

I need to speak with your superior.

Captain Ambrosio at your service.

Excuse me, Captain.

Who are you?

Alexander MacLennan.

I work for Mr. Menéndez.

And your clothes?

I served the English Army during the war.

Allow me to welcome you to the Republic of Argentina.



We are standing right now on the Andes Mountains.

The Andes?

Yes, the Andes.

I always thought it would be larger.

It is the largest!

Come over here.

Nice and straight.

There! No, no.

This way. Straight.

There should be a right angle between the ground and the pole.

It is bent, it must go this way.

Look at me!

Like this!

The angle of the pole is bent, sir.

Lift it right here. Move it in this direction.

But without moving the pole!

And you, what do you do, here?

See those two men over there?


Our mission is to accompany Mr. Moreno.

He is in charge of ratifying the limits

of the Chilean and Argentine border.

It is peaceful out here.

Yes, quite.

Some days I just want to shoot.

Shoot what?

Them, for example.

I don’t think

any of your men has an aim

as good as this Chilean’s.

You haven’t met Vargas.

Let’s make it very clear.

Vargas shoots for our team.

That Chilean shoots for yours.

Go ahead, Chilean!



Go, my Vargas!

Go ahead!


How about a strength competition?

How is your American at arm wrestling?

Can you feel that, Argentina?

Can you feel that? That’s the force!

Get on with it, Bill!

Come on, your reputation precedes you!

Get on with it, you’re dealing with a real man now!

Hit, hit!

Come on!

Fuck you!


Go Argentina, damn it!

Who invented this cunt’s reputation?

Know how to fight?



Love it!

Stay down, boy! Stay down!

He’s all yours now!

That’s right, fuck him up!

Hit him again!

Take him out, Lieutenant!

Get off me!

Get the fuck off me!

Little Englishman!

Bravo, Englishman!


Can’t see anything.

Let’s go.

Good evening, gentlemen.

Good evening, Moreno.

I see you are hurt, Captain.

You should be more careful.

We have visitors.

My name is Alexander MacLennan, I work for José Menéndez.

José Menéndez…

Do you know, Mr. MacLennan, how much land gave the state of Chile to your José Menéndez?

Are you aware of that?

How long have you gentlemen been traveling?

Three days.

Three days of land!

It’s quite odd, isn’t it?

What is?

Both sides of the border belonging to the same man…

What I find odd is that men would fight over a land where there’s fucking nothing.

Mr. MacLennan, take a look at these people.


Take a look at their skull.

How particular it is, how delicate.

These people, Mr. MacLennan,

should be taken to the University,

to Oxford,

to make them engineers or lawyers.

That’s what a country needs to do with its money.

Not fencing for the sheep.

Right, Captain?

What will our visitors think?

One scientist and twenty military.

Bored military.

Nothing good happens

when military get bored.

With your permission.

Come with me, little Jimmy.

Come with me.

You can’t even talk to them.

They come here with their silk scarves

and their twisted ways.

They trace a line on the ground and they think they own the world.

Do you know where we can find more people

who look like that?



They are not far away.

You need to head west

and go through the forest.



Where are you from?

From Chiloé.

And where is that?

Up north.

It’s an island.

Same as me.

You know,


and cowboys…

we’re not the same thing, not the same animal.

What will you do with your money, Segundo?

I want a horse.

A horse?

What would a half-breed like you do with a horse?


in the war…

I had to kill my horse.

Between ten men…

we ate the horse.

Shit, what the hell is wrong with you?

A man who rides never eats his horse.

It is like eating a friend, God damn it!

No one’s asking for your opinion, redneck!

And when I’m in charge,

I don’t question what is necessary.

I thought I heard the Old Man say

“Leave her, Johnny, leave her”

Tomorrow you will get your pay

And its time for us to leave her

Leave her, Johnny, leave her!

Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!

For the voyage is done and the winds don’t blow

And it’s time…

Coming through, Red Pig.

…to leave her

Crazy fucking Brit…

Oh, the wind was foul and the sea ran high

You stupid son of a bitch!

Steady, Bill.

You lecture me about discipline and then you pull shit like that?

You’re doing everything wrong, Lieutenant.

Ever since you brought that fucking half-breed along.

Horses were awful jittery last night, Lieutenant.

They woke me up several time.

Strange thing was, when I woke up he wasn’t there.

How is that?

He just wasn’t.

I told you we couldn’t trust him.

You’re white and he’s not.

And our differences are set in stone.

Hey, easy! Easy, easy.


How many are there?

More than ten.

Less than twenty.

What do we do?

I reckon they ain’t any tougher than the Apache.

You know about these things.

Tell us what to do.

I just need you to cover me.

We’re going to come in

soft and silent like the wind.

Less of the poetry, Bill.

Alright, let’s not waste any more time then.

We attack at dawn.


Check your ammunition.

It’s checked.

I suggest we approach on foot.

We should put the horses somewhere a little more discreet.

Maybe he could stay with the horses…

Don’t worry about him, he’s my responsibility.

Stand up! Come here!

Segundo! Come here!



My turn.

Are you alright?


How many did you kill?

I don’t know.

And you?


Well, that was way beneath my expectations.

Your turn.

No, thank you.

The woman…

She’s waiting for you.

I’m good here.

Stand up and go now!

Look at me.

Look at me.


You think you’re a better person than me because you fucking stand there

with your judging eyes, fucking watching me?

I see you watching me and everything I fucking do.

And I do not like it.

If I tell you what to do, you fucking do it!

Do you understand me? I seen you fucking watching me!

You fucking watch me with those eyes one more time,

and I’ll extinguish your fucking flame.

You’re destined for darkness, for blackness,

for fucking nada!


You fucking use them for a fucking mujer.

When I tell you there’s a fucking woman in there,

you go in there and fucking use them, do you understand me?

You disobey me one more time, I’ll extinguish your fucking flame

as easy as a fire with fucking water!

And when I tell you to breathe,

you breathe.

Now go fuck her.

Go and fuck her now.


No way to treat the Queen’s uniform.

You’re English?

Who are you?

My name is Alexander MacLennan, I work for a José Menéndez.

You know that name?



He is the owner of these lands.

You look worn, soldier.

Join us at our camp.

We appreciate the invitation,

but we still have a long journey ahead of us,

we should resist keeping our employers waiting.

First you must wash that tunic.

We appreciate the invitation…

Are you going to turn down my hospitality?

What silliness!

Of course you’ll join us.

I’m not used to being rebuffed.


Have a drink, Lieutenant.

It’s a private’s uniform.

Not a lieutenant’s.


I can’t fucking believe it!

You son of a bitch!

When did you serve?

In the ’80s.

Transvaal? Egypt?



In the 75th as a rifleman.

Gordon Highlanders.

Tel El Kebir?


Lucky you.

And yourself?

Royal Scots, First Battalion.

Lydenburg and Bermondsey.

You would have served under Colonel Martin.


You are Colonel Martin!

I was, until bad fortune brought me here.

Well, it’s an honor to be at your table, Colonel.

Indeed it is.

It’s an honor for me to meet a Colonel

who has no problem with a private sitting at the same table!

Cause that just ain’t normal, ain’t it?

We are at the ends of the Earth, matey.

Things are more relaxed.

You and your men should rest here for the night,

and continue in the morning.

That’s a generous offer, Colonel,

but my orders were very specific.

And you, my friend?

Would you stay?

I don’t know, maybe.

That all depends, Colonel.

Stay and do what, exactly?

Pursue our cravings.

Well I do like the sound of that.

Good boy.

I’ve been following orders from this English red pig

for I don’t know how many days now!

It’d be pleasure to spend some time with a real officer

and a proper Englishman like yourself!

Excellent news!

You should choose your men more wisely, soldier.

He referred to you as English.

Yes, and what of it?

You’re a Scot!

Have some self-respect!

I have no time for traitors.

Less so if they’re from the old colonies.

I have my orders, Colonel, do you understand?




Come here!


I said, come here!

Come, sit with us.


Do you like this man?

No, don’t like.

Aren’t these natives extraordinary?

Do you want her?


these men are interested in you.

Would you like to go with them?

They’re good men.

Like myself.

I’m sorry you lost a man, soldier.

Take the squaw.

She’ll be of more use to you than the American.

Me and my men, we don’t really fancy the natives.

I suppose my tastes are a little more refined.

Do you understand?

It seems like a fair trade.

But there is one more detail…

You are sad.

Here is bad.

Men hit me.

Koliot hit me. Don’t like.

You’re not white.

It’s for you.

For hunt, for cook, like a knife.

I make it.

Don’t like these men.

Me horse with you.

Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry

Go to sleep you little baby

Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry

Go to sleep you little baby

When you wake you shall have

All the pretty little horses

When you wake you shall have

All the pretty little horses


…dapples and greys

Pintos and bays

All the pretty little horses

Way down yonder in the meadow

Poor little baby crying “Mamma”

Way down yonder in the meadow

Poor little baby crying “Mamma”

Hush-a-bye don’t you cry

Go to sleep you little baby

When you wake you shall have

And all the pretty little horses


Have we heard from our guest?

He wanted to stop by his hotel to bathe before coming.

Why does he need a hotel?

Does he think we don’t have hot water?

Presidents have stayed in this house.

I find it utterly rude.

What do we know of this man?

He is an intellectual.


a nationalist.

Mr. Vicuña is here.

I’m very sorry for the delay.

Madam, a pleasure.

Monsignor, a pleasure.

I’m sorry I missed the ceremony at the square this morning.

I was taken by surprise.

Don José,

it’s a pleasure to be in your home.


We were waiting for you. Please have a seat.

Thank you.


please serve him some tea.

What brings you to these lands, Mr. Vicuña?

We plan to celebrate

the first 100 years of our nation.

And we want to do more

than opening new parks, libraries or museums.

The President of the Republic asked me to visit

the farthest regions of our country,

to learn and understand the needs of our people.

The men who come from the capital

quickly leave these lands, leaving behind…

nothing more than infamy.

“Desolation Island”.

“Port Hunger”,

“Useless Bay”.

I hope you are not one of them.

It’s as if those infamous names

not only speak of our rough geography,

but also of the terrible crimes committed here.

What crimes?

Have you heard

of Alexander MacLennan?

Of course.

He worked many years for me.

Unfortunately, he is no longer in this world.

As I recall, the newspaper La Razón

wrote a long article about him

a few years ago.

Somewhat of a…

gruesome story.

Hard to believe.

It is said MacLennan and other men

poisoned the almost 200 tons of meat

of a whale stranded on the beach,

ending the lives of almost 100 Indians

who ate it.

I don’t read the local press.

Apparently, MacLennan, nicknamed the Red Pig,

hunted Indians across the pampas.

What a fascination for tabloids!

Out of respect,

we should call him Lieutenant MacLennan.

Not “Red Pig”?


Why not?

Because he did not like it.

They called him that out of pure envy.

Envy is a difficult sin to fight.

The human being is so complex and so fragile at the same time.

That is also where his value lies.

In his ability to choose, to fail,

but also to forgive and be forgiven.

The Indians could resist the cold, even naked,

but our illnesses killed them, even God couldn’t help them.

We know, Monsignor.

We know all we’ve done for the Indians.

With your narrow city mind,

you can’t imagine all the food we gave them.

Nor all the orphans taken into decent homes.

Are you referring to the auction of Indians

that took place in the square of Punta Arenas?

What you read in the capital are not newspapers, but satires!

Those satires accuse you of paying a pound

for each severed Ona ear

and almost two pounds

for a woman’s uterus.

You come here, to our home, and make accusations

as if we were delinquents.

We’ve killed many savages and will continue, if necessary.

You are busy with politics in the north,

while we are working!

My father gets older on each business trip

to promote land development.

Thanks to our effort and to those dead Indians,

you are here, in the last corner of the Earth.

In this “inhospitable”, “untamable” place,

we provided food for thousands of children

roaming around the dirty streets of your capital!

I am sorry.

Here, we can talk seriously, Mr. Vicuña.

I thought we were talking seriously.

No, that was politics.

Politics aren’t serious?

I don’t think so.

Especially when led by men who don’t know their country.

Our goal is the creation of a new nation,

made by Chileans, settlers and Indians.

Together we must build this beautiful country.

For this, peace is necessary.

Here, we live in peace…

We have an agreement with the Mapuche.

No agreements are made with the Indians.

They neither respect the Law nor their word.

But we must respect ours.

What do you need?

I want to meet the Onas.

Listen to them.

Talk to them.

The Onas don’t speak!

Maybe not with you.

They never interested me much…

Maybe this might interest you:

we must renew the agreement you signed 10 years ago

to manage these lands.

Lands that have gained much value,

about 15 times the price you paid for them.

And as you know,

the ratification of the agreement depends on our Congress,

and not on our friend, President Pedro Montt.

I want you to keep the administration of these lands.

Thank you, Mr. Vicuña.

It seems…

only fair to me.

But as I was saying, the stories that reach Santiago,

instead of helping, make it harder to convince the deputies.

I know you’re very proud of your achievements,

but we,

as children of this young and noble motherland,

must take care of the optics.

We are interested in aesthetics.

What aesthetics?

Wool stained with blood

loses all value.

What do you want?


Good afternoon, madam.

Does Mr. Segundo Molina live here?

Laura, read!

Segundo Molina: Camino del Rosal,

Town of Tenaun, department of Dalcahue,

Chiloé Island, Republic of Chile.

Is that here?

It is here.

Where is he?

He is off to sea.

Are you his wife?

Yes. And who are you?

Marcial Vicuña.

I work for the President.

What president?

The President of Chile, Pedro Montt.

Never heard of him.

We must talk with Mr. Segundo.

Don José Menéndez said he could help us.

Help you with what?

Do you know who José Menéndez is?


When is your husband coming back?

I don’t know.

When men leave, one never knows if they will be back.

What is your name, Madam?


Let’s make a deal, Rosa. Shall we?

I propose

that you invite me in, so we can talk quietly.

If you accept,

I won’t tell these police officers

that you are hiding something.

Are you going to arrest him?

Why would we?

Do you accept?

I thank you,

deeply, for inviting me into your home.

Do you mind if my assistant joins us?


Laura, come.

I don’t work for those people anymore.

But you did work there.

Yes, many years ago.

They say the things that happened there

were terrible.

That many Indians died.

We want to report those awful crimes.

Why are you so interested?

To do justice.


That’s why I need to talk to you, Segundo.

About what?

An interview.

What do you want to know?

What jobs did you do for José Menéndez?

I worked with the sheep,

herding them, shearing them in the sheds.

With my dogs, we moved thousands of sheep.

And now, what do you do?

I have my animals,

my boat.

We live off the sea.

But do you earn money?

We live off what the sea gives us.


The sea is wise.

If you respect it,

it takes care of you.

It’d be very important for me to have an image of you.

An image?

An image…

that gives truth to your testimony.

A portrait.


but in motion…

Rosa, may I ask you a question?


How did you two meet?

Once, along with the Lieutenant…

What lieutenant?

Lieutenant MacLennan.

Things were complicated and Menéndez wanted no more problems with the Indians.

So, the Lieutenant became Judge.


A Peace Judge, said Menéndez.

We had to talk to the Indians and make peace.

Rosa helped us communicate.

We spent months touring the island, talking to them.

Once, the Lieutenant had the idea to offer a meal.

He organized a banquet on a beach.

A lot of Indians arrived,

there must have been 300 of them.

We had roasted lambs, more than 50 animals on the spit.

The Indians ate and drank all they wanted.

They got to the meat and tore it apart with their teeth, as if they had never eaten.

Then we brought the wine in large pots.

When the sun set, many were already drunk, lying on the sand.

Then we took the rifles and started shooting.

The Indians began to run.

They went into the sea.

We chased them and strangled them with our hands until they stopped moving.

The sea turned red.

You must have been through very hard times.

But I assure you that your sacrifices, and your wife’s, have not been in vain.

Segundo, are you alright?


The hat does not bother you?

Perfect! Very good!

Laura, fill the cup of tea please, will you?

All good there?

Yes? Is the focus alright?

Fix her blouse.


The other side also. And the hair there, right there.


Very good.

Very good. Let’s start.

Let’s shoot.

Have some tea.


Can you take your cup?


The cup.

In your hand, at the level of your face, please.

Rosa please. Could you stir your cup of tea?

Rosa, do you want to be part of this nation?

Drink the tea.


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