Friday, October 9, 2009

I Am Cuba

a.k.a. Soy Cuba
Mikhail Kalatozov, USSR-Cuba, 1964, bw (8.8*)

This is a remarkable film about fifties Cuba that is only now getting its proper recognition due to western prejudice. It's admittedly socialist propaganda, but is so well photographed and tells such a touching story that one can hardly disagree with its message. The film begins with a quote from Columbus' diary about "the most beautiful paradise on earth", then shows sugar cane farmers at work. Soon, the landowners tell farmers they've sold the land to United Fruit Company, and they all must abandon their homes and crops with no compensation. This leads to demonstrations in cities, and the fascist police kill many, added to the growing resentment of big business and corrupt government. Many of the now jobless farmers join a growing army in the mountains - with machetes as their only weapons until they can capture rifles in battles. When the government starts bombing the mountains and more civilian homes, they add to the ranks of the growing guerrilla movement.

Everyone knows the story, but few have seen this film, which captures the point of view of the innocent victims of capitalists, who were so short-sighted that to save just a few dollars of compensation for those displaced created a nation of communists and lost a valuable market for U.S. trade as a result, costing them billions over time - a just reward for those who think with their wealth first and their hearts last.

This Russian film has narration written by the famous poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and was brilliantly directed by Mikhail Kalatozov. In 1996, it was voted into the archive films by the National Society of Film Critics, and nominated for an Independent Spirit award that year also, only 32 years after its release! Even Martin Scorsese has screened this film to talk about the cinematography and creative direction, which uses a lot of wide-angle, camera motion, and upward perspective to include the mountains and sky. Told in four major vignettes and running 141 minutes, the film does lack a consistent story line and will remain an "art" film, studied by professionals and students of film, but will always have limited appeal in a nation controlled by large corporations, as it exposes their guilt in their disdain for the laborers who do most of the work in every culture.


storesonline893 December 24, 2009 at 12:26 AM  

Interesting! Thats pretty cool! You don’t mind if I come here more often and read your posts do you? I love to blog but only on good subjects. Like this one for instance! Can’t wait till you post something else.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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