Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I Am Cuba 1964.

Speaking of Cuba, I decided to watch this extraordinary epic of the fall of the Cuban Dictatorship and the rise of the Revolution for the third thrilling time. Yes of course its propaganda but taken for what it is and was,there are many truths presented here, and lets not forget what Cuba was about in the 1950's under Batista's brutal long dictatorship.
The film is presented in four seamless segments showing us the hardships of the people and includes a long segment on the student uprising that features the only known actor (to me anyway) Sergio Corrieri as one of the student leaders. This film might be the most beautiful film I've ever seen, the scenes fluid and poetic simply take your breath away.
Especially great is the very famous opening at a hotel with the camera beginning at the top of the building, stopping at a tacky beauty pageant and traveling down into the swimming pool. Also great is the swirling delirious nightclub segment with the camera focusing on a male singer, bar girls, prostitutes and dancing patrons with an emphasis on brutish American male tourists picking up girls for their evening fun.
Yes one could say that these American portraits are stereotyped as is the nasty scene with American sailors stalking a young woman through the streets of Havana, but who could doubt that this kind of behavior never took place. The film sat unseen for many years until it was seen and rescued by Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola who brought it to the attention of the world, and became an influence for many young filmmakers, see for instance Boogie Nights. Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov with cinematography by Sergey Urusevskiy, this was a joint venture between Cuba and The Soviet Union, who thought they were making a simple piece of propaganda but were actually making one of the great films in the history of cinema.


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