Fidel (2001)

"Terrible"

Fidel (2001) Review


At a time when Americans might be sympathetic to lifting the economic embargo on Cuba, when the public memory of its origin as a response to Fidel Castro's theft of the properties and businesses of American corporations is fading, documentarian Estela Bravo and husband Ernesto expertly put together a presentation of the Cuban dictator that is more a campaign tract to that cause than a probing discussion of his commandeering tactics.

Starting with footage of Castro's childhood and early manhood, some of which is new and fascinating, Bravo puts together a highlight reel that includes his earliest political alliances and adventures, his escape to the Maestra Sierra mountains where he gathered a guerilla force with Che Guevara at his side and, in 1959, his emergence in victory against the U.S. backed, armed, and trained Batista army. This is the stuff of legend but, unfortunately, as history (but not this film) informs us, this undisputed leader's promise of deliverance from tyrannical dictatorship merely morphed into his own brand of despotic, repressive rule.

At this point in the narrative, when an objective filmmaker might bring in dissenting voices, Bravo reveals the true intent of her film by carefully selecting interview subjects who will construct a portrait of Castro so predominantly charitable it can only be seen as propaganda. Bravo, as a filmmaker, has flourished under Castro. This, apparently, is her thank you note to him, done with enough skill to suggest that if she wasn't engaged in this form of editorial deception, Estela Bravo would be selling you the bridge of your choice.

In her mirror of tricks we see a distorted image of Castro as a benevolent grandfatherly figure devoted to the well being of his people and country. Only we know better. We know that what he puts first, as does every dictator, are his survival and grip on power. With no free press or voices of dissent to challenge his policies, no political opposition allowed to develop on his island, and as much human rights abuse as he needs for his purposes, he can afford to play the grand old statesman and claim that he wears a vest of morality. Don't his people adore him and his proletarian ways?

But where, in this picture, are the Cuban dispossessed and the exiled? Where are the imprisoned, the tortured? Without an opposing viewpoint the documentary reeks of self-serving hero worship, a myth of grandiose proportions, not just flattering, but fawning. Leni Riefenstahl did as much in her film glorifications of Hitler.

In the end, do Bravo and her team of reverential Castro admirers convince us to lift the economic embargo that has plagued Castro and the economy of Cuba all these years? Sure, just as soon as he returns the properties and monetary losses to the American corporations from whom he confiscated them.

After this study in image revision, what subject might Bravo turn her PR talents to next? Well, I think we can propose that Saddam Hussein is in need of a makeover.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Estela Bravo

Producer:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.