Four vignettes about the lives of the Cuban people set during the pre-revolutionary era.Four vignettes about the lives of the Cuban people set during the pre-revolutionary era.Four vignettes about the lives of the Cuban people set during the pre-revolutionary era.
- Gloria (in Cuban version)as Gloria (in Cuban version)
- (as Zilia Rodríguez)
- Pablo (in Cuban version)as Pablo (in Cuban version)
- (as Mario González)
I Am Cuba is described by film critic Elliot Wilhelm as "a unique, insane, exhilarating spectacle". Filmed in Spanish, dubbed in Russian, and subtitled in English, this unique collaboration between Russian director Mikhail Kalatozov (The Cranes are Flying), the poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko, and writer Enrique Pineda Barnet dramatizes the conditions that led to the 1959 Cuban revolution. Originally made in 1964 (and unpopular both in Russia and Cuba), it was released in 1995 through the combined efforts of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola.
I Am Cuba is set in the late 1950s when a ragtag bunch of students, workers, and peasants organized to overthrow the corrupt regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista. The film is divided into four sequences. The first depicts the American-run gambling casinos and prostitution in Havana. The next shows a farmer burning his sugar cane when he learns he is going to lose his land to United Fruit. Another describes the suppression of students and dissenters at Havana University, and the final sequence shows how government bombing of mountain fields induced farmers to join with the rebels in the Sierra Maestre mountains. The final scene is a triumphal march into Havana to proclaim the revolution.
Marvelously photographed in black and white by Sergei Urusevsky and using acrobatic camerawork by Alexandr Kalzaty, some of the shots and distorted camera angles are so staggering as to be virtually unbelievable. In one sequence, the camera lifts off from a hotel rooftop, takes in the Havana skyline, descends several floors, winds its way through the poolside party-goers, and then takes you for a swim in the pool in one continuous shot. Reminiscent of Sergei Eisenstein, the caricatures are broad but are presented with such exuberance that it hardly seems to matter. Audacious and imaginative, I Am Cuba is a revelation, not only for its style but also for its inspiration. Filmed with true visionary poetry, I Am Cuba transcends the genre of advocacy filmmaking to reach a pinnacle of cinematic art.
- Nov 18, 2002