I Am Cuba

"Excellent"

I Am Cuba Review


At this writing (Novenber 2007), a just-released undercover poll of Cuban citizens reflects their unhappiness with the Castro regime and government leadership. That's the Cuba of today. I Am Cuba is the Cuba of yesterday, a slowly building rage of cinematic propaganda, created to showcase the island nation's beauty -- and the supposedly just causes for the anti-Batista revolution.

I Am Cuba is a fantastic film curiosity. Released in 1964 (shown in the States in '95), the film is a co-production of the Soviet and Cuban governments, with the call for Communist uprising as the ultimate message. Unique as that is, I Am Cuba has also become the gold standard for remarkable cinematography, with structure, movement and creativity that rivals the visual work seen in Citizen Kane.

The movie begins as a forlorn love letter. A woman's voice quietly proclaims "I Am Cuba," while an in-boat camera smoothly captures water travel past people's humble huts. The voiceover then laments Columbus having taken Cuba's valuable sugar cane, producing both sweet juice and bitter tears. Poetic, both narratively and visually.

Then comes one of the most famous camera moves in history, as we're introduced to Cuba at a downtown roof party. The camera descends from the rooftop, gracefully winds its way through a crowd, enters the nearby swimming pool and gently goes underwater where happy swimmers remain in focus. All in one long, uncut shot.

It's a wonder of technical expertise and patience, but there's more to the shot than that: It creates a distinct style for the viewer, capturing surroundings as well as any two-dimensional film ever has. The lens selection allows for a wide scope without feeling fish-eye and the black-and-white detail is intoxicating. The rest of the film is no less impressive, most scenes covered in single, long-take shots with what appears to be impossible choreography.

While the images take over, the initial story is a little less than captivating. It's pre-Castro time, which means ugly Americans buying women, destitute farmers and neighborhoods, vicious landowners capitalizing on others' crops... who wouldn't want to revolt? The narrative becomes satisfyingly tense as the political tide begins to turn, and a group of university students plot their actions against Batista's government.

From riots in the streets to bombings in the hinterlands, I Am Cuba becomes large-scale, epic stuff, all produced with incredible technical aplomb. One can imagine the project as a chest-thumping source of pride for the Soviet government, full of inciting imagery, enormous filmmaking prowess and the flavor of revolution. Its politics might not reflect today's Cuba. But its style could certainly affect today's filmmaking.

The "Ultimate Collection" DVD set is a celebration for film fans. Presented by Francis Coppola and Martin Scorsese, it includes a newly mastered version of the film, your choice of Spanish or Russian soundtracks, two behind-the-scenes documentaries, as well as interviews with Scorsese and the film's screenwriter... all packaged in a well-designed cigar box.

Aka Soy Cuba.



I Am Cuba

Facts and Figures

Run time: 141 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st December 1995

Production compaines: Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industrias Cinematográficos (ICAIC), Mosfilm

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 32

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Mikhail Kalatozov

Starring: Sergio Corrieri as Alberto

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

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.