Thursday, July 24, 2008

Viva La Revolucion!

Soy Cuba (I Am Cuba) Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov(1964)
Maybe one of the best movies made! I think I could watch Kalatozov (say it three times fast) film grass grow and be spellbound. The camera literally dances, and is a character in it's own right. Four stories about the Cuban life before, during, and ending with the revolution. We see the Havana nightclub prostitute (the films most dazzling moments, like coming to Cuba for the first time), a farmer whose loosing his land to US Fruit (the films most spiritual/anti-spiritual moment, the farmer raging at the sky and the world), a student activist poised to be a terrorist or a martyr, and a family man and pacifist driven to war...but who cares! This is not an effective propaganda film because by the end of the movie, your not so much mad at the big bad West, as you are just disappointed there isn't more. You care about the characters certainly, but you care about them as individuals, beset by the troubles of "life", and not as a faceless nation, engaging in a "fight". Propaganda to work needs a "them" for "us" to turn our attention towards, look at Micheal Moore's films, for examples of this. "I Am Cuba" has foreign and internal devils, but each story is told so well, you feel for the characters, and not some abstract notion of the "the Cuban people". The sheer cinematic strength Of the film, it's composition, AMAZING tracking shots (ripped off by Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, and Andrei Tartovsky, to name a few. They each steal scenes, and even then that's not half of the amazing images.), music, and performances are so good they transform and transcend the story. What Sergio Leone did for the Western in "Once Upon A Time In The West", and Stanley Kubrick did for science fiction in "2001: A Space Odyssey", is equivalent to what this film does for propaganda. The Cuban public at the time though it was too stereotypical (a fair critique, the director and crew are mostly Russian), Soviets thought it was too soft on capitalism and the west, film makers everywhere I imagine wet themselves.Quite possibly one of the best films ever, never seen in the US, til the mid 90's. The portrayals of Americans are amusing to say the least (think of all those furry hated evil Russians in cold war movies to be fair. Think "Red Dawn" for Pete's sakes) Anyway if you like "great films" see this, its exhilarating and beautiful, and as a whole it more than makes up for the sum of its parts.Incredible.

1 comment:

arvillah said...

This looks like a really beautiful film. I must see this.