Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Am Cuba (1964)

An unabashed exercise in cinema stylistics, I Am Cuba is pro-Castro/anti-Batista rhetoric dressed up in the finest clothes. The film's four dramatic stories take place in the final days of the Batista regime; the first two illustrate the ills that led to the revolution, the third and fourth the call to arms which cut across social and economic lines. A lovely young woman in a nightclub frequented by crass American businessmen takes a customer to her modest seaside shack for a night of pleasure for pay, only to be found out by her street vendor suitor; a tenant farmer is told that his crop has been sold to United Fruit and in frustration burns his fields; a middle-class student rallies his pals and workers in a street demonstration against the regime; a peasant eking out a living in the mountains quickly converts to the cause when Batista bombers strafe his land in search of rebel fighters. At face value, this is all obvious agitprop, but director Mikhail Kalazatov turned his cinematographer, Sergei Urusevsky, loose, and the result is a procession of dazzling black-and-white images, shot with a camera that is almost always moving and soaring over the sugar fields, swooping in and out of urban buildings, following characters down narrow streets. Unreleasable to American theaters during the Cold War, I Am Cuba, through the auspices of filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, got a belated U.S. release in 1995 and has proved to be both a time capsule of a fading political movement and a timeless work of cinematic art. ~ Tom Wiener, All Movie Guide

For cinematography it was a 10. I loved the long shots scenes that a couple were over 2 minutes in length.
My mother also had a chance to watched this and we both enjoyed it.

There was several propaganda points that missed the mark or did not make sense.
1. The man that burned his sugar cane field show complete ignorance. He sent his two children to town with the last of their money and then burned down the field and the house with all the furnishings and then was overcame with smoke and supposedly died. His reason was supposedly because they had stole his property from him. But the robbers did say he was going to get paid. And no matter what anyone else would say, I would have harvested as much of the cane as possible and sold it as quickly as possible. So instead of that he left his children as orphans and burned up all possessions up in the fire.

2. The prostitute lived in a run down shack with light coming in from the roof but had an elaborate carving on the rocking chair and a pure white bed spread. Also if she was able to work in the touristy areas with Americans then her standard of living would not have indicated that she would have had to live in the most depressed areas of the city. It was a nice set construction of a slum.

Aside from being a complete propaganda piece about "Soy Cuba" (I am Cuba) this was an excellent cinematographic film.

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