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

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

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.