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  • I was pleasantly surprised at this film. Given the anti-Cuban bias of most things we see in the media, I thought this movie did a decent job of presenting Cuban history from a neutral position. It explains why the Revolution was needed, why people supported Fidel, and what some of the challenges were after the Revolution (Bay of Pigs invasion, etc.) For people who know nothing about Cuban history, it gives a good overview and makes for a dramatic story. It relies too heavily at times on melodrama, and Gael García Bernal as Che is ridiculous. The Mexican actors who play the lead roles are ok in general, but there are times when it looks more like a soap opera than a film (not a coincidence that the stars are well known soap opera stars). Still, for this kind of bio- pic, it's fine for what it is. The ending is a little over the top. I think the director is trying too hard to show that Fidel has become isolated from the people. If you follow news, you know that this isn't true. But the parts that deal with the early stages of the Revolution are especially good, and it's fun to see the costumes, old cars and settings of pre-revolutionary Cuba. I also liked the parts that deal with the Revolutionary battles. It gives a good idea of what the Cubans were fighting for, and the dramatic scenes between Fidel and Celia Sánchez are good.
  • Some TV productions of late have been fantastic, and many are duds. `¡Fidel!' is interesting for content but disappointing in production. Huggo Martin has good moments in the title role, but mostly he walks through the lines without imparting believability to them. Other cast members do the same. Of course, Fidel Castro is a fascinating character. Viewing this film does flesh out a Yankee's knowledge of his life. Yet, so much remains unanswered. The first segment portrays him as an idealistic leader of the justified overthrow of General Batista. His failures seem somehow related to lack of realistic planning, but he triumphs in the end at least in part by his reliance on subordinates. Then, the second segment takes us to the Castro government in power. Here, we see a megalomaniac who makes his own decisions regardless of reality or the opinions of others. He sells out his revolution out to the Soviets for no apparent reason other than his hate for the U. S. The regime becomes a disaster for the Cuban people. The film makes no effort to explain the abrupt change. Is it just the taste of power, or is there an illness within Castro's mind? Were we deceived at first? Castro and the Che Guevara character often throw allegations toward the CIA, but all of that is also left vague. A viewer interested in the subject here can only come away terribly unsatisfied.
  • esteban174717 May 2005
    It is certainly very difficult for someone to prepare well a film about Fidel Castro and Cuban Revolution. One lengthy film is not enough, may be some sequels are the best way to show something consistent. The director and producers should be obviously people neutral trying to show good and bad of this process. The film from historical point of view has a lot of incoherences, persons like Fidel and Raúl Castro as well as Che Guevara are badly played. Fidel Castro is not so sweet talking as you can see him in this film, while Guevara was a man with culture and deep in his arguments, Gael García Bernal played a role far to be Che Guevara. There are also some doubtful scenes and assertions, e.g. young Fidel Castro arguing with the American Ambassador after the American marines raped the monument of José Martí. Historically there is no evidence that Castro had such a discussion with the ambassador. Raúl Castro was never sympathetic to the leader of Orthodox party, Eduardo Chivas. Raúl was a member of the youth of the so-called Partido Socialista Popular (Communist), and this party had no good relationship with Orthodox party, so the scene of Raúl running together with Fidel at the time Chivas shot himself is not real. Celia Sánchez died several years after the revolutionary offensive, which happened in 1967. Che Guevara resigned as Minister and went first to Congo, then came back to Cuba in order to prepare the guerrilla for Bolivia. Thus the film was wrong showing that Guevara resigned and went directly to Bolivia. Any film about Cuban Revolution should give some space to Camilo Cienfuegos' life, a real hero of the Cuban Revolution, who was badly shown in the film. The figure of Dr. Osvaldo Dorticos, the second president during the Revolution, who killed himself, is absent in the film. Hubert Matos' problem was touched superficially, the same is applicable to the case of General Ochoa, just mentioned slightly at the end of the film and mixed with Mariel exodus, the latter happened in 1980 while Ochoa was arrested and processed in 1989. The relationship between Cuba and USSR was historically very complicated, and shifting from time to time. I can make a longer list of historical shortcomings of this film, but it also has the Mexican accent of the actors talking in Spanish plus some extras that do not look at all as Cubans. To prepare a good material about Cuba you must have more mulatos and black people (no less than 40% of Cuban population) participating in the film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The first two hours of this movie are superb. There are some very strong performances all round, and the activities are well researched and offer a fairly objective view of events. Obviously, many events are skirted over in order to fit the running time, but what is shown is a fairly accurate portrayal of history. The violence in particular is extremely well done, offering a very realistic portrayal of gunfire and its consequences, instead of some needlessly flashy OTT action.

    The problem comes around the 2 hour mark as Castro takes power of Cuba. Suddenly, the timeline lurches drastically to try and mention important events. The films low budget shows itself up as the film spans years and events with little or no regard to objective film making.

    The movie is about Fidel, however, over two hours in and we suddenly cut to a very badly filmed sequence showing the death of Che Guevara. Whilst certainly an important part of Fidel's life, the narrative shift from Fidel to Che seems clunky and out of place with the rest of the film.

    The desire to portray Fidel in a bad light, sacrifices the characterisation of the first half of the movie, and instead offers a clumsily scripted/filmed series of events designed to show Fidel in a bad light. The film should've ended when he took power. As it is, the final hour and a half ruin an otherwise great movie.
  • I was very surprised, and disappointed, at what I thought was a very amateurishly acted movie. I expected something dynamic, controversial, and last but not least, interesting. Instead the acting seemed wooden (I can't think of a better way to describe it), the characters, unlike their real-life counterparts, devoid of life. The word "amateurish" kept popping into my head as I watched what I could of it - then I just gave up. I'm assuming the actors and creative staff must know what they're doing, but it just didn't come together in this "production". I was almost embarrassed for all the people involved in the making of this film.
  • I must say this movie was quite well presented. It surprised me to see a self centered movie about Fidel Castro even it was produced by an american company.

    I don't want to talk about what Fidel has done or what he hasn't done as Cuba's president.

    I liked the movie because it presents a certain episode in Cuba's history. I disagree on the comments presented before about Fidel's actions against his political opponents because it's the director's and the producer's decision what episodes to present in a movie. As far as I know, they're free to talk only about certain moment in Cuba's history. It's ok to disagree on that, but there's no way to criticize it because it will be doing the same people criticizes on Fidel: his lack of acceptance to different points of view and his tolerance to people who don't agree with him.
  • The movie narrates with historical accuracy the birth of the Cuban revolution. The movie also scrutinizes without taking sides, the aims that Fidel Castro strived for his people as well as the diverse events that influenced the radicalism of the revolution after this was won. So at the beginning we see Castro's idealism blossoming at the Sierra Maestra and later on being implemented in the form of urban reform, agrarian reform and new clinics and schools for the poor. Later, we contemplate with dismay the excesses of the revolution with Che Guevara and Raul Castro practically in control. And finally, we see a Fidel Castro obsessed with the revolution to the extreme of losing touch with his people's aspirations. A well done, well acted movie that deserves high marks.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is so sad. People who are curious and want to know about history, maybe get to see this inaccurate slander first. It's a prime example of an extremely manipulative propaganda movie. They do the trick by talking as if they were the authentic person (Fidel) and pretending things. They create a straw man. Later on (like at the very end) they blend in real arguments and quotes, but those then lose all credibility and content with the set-up movie-background that is given.

    So when you talk to a person who says he knows something about the Cuban revolution, he might really only have seen this movie and based everything on it. Naturally, then, there'll be a clash of opinions, because this person believes that the actions portrayed in the movie have the purposes that have been presented by the actors. In reality the person will know everything about the plot, but nothing about Cuban history or Fidel.

    If you see how power corrupts in the movie, I did, then it was the purpose of the film maker. And nothing else. It doesn't imply that the real life Castro is corrupted by power. That in itself is actually a strange statement, because it implies that Castro is or was the sole decision maker, which isn't true. Things are decided through voting. (Not by money or the television space it can buy).

    Then there is the point about counter-revolutionaries. In the movie it's just some scapegoat for consolidating power. In reality it is and was a grave threat to all kinds of revolutions. Coups, invasions, sabotage, assassinations, raids, terrorism and so on, are extremely common. Even slander movies like this one are made for that purpose. But despite this the Cuban revolution still lives on, where others have been unsuccessful.

    However, this movie is very interesting in one aspect, and that is that it shows more about our own society than of the Cuban one. The movie made me realize how money can spread ideas or even lies and in a way be used to "buy" votes or support. But this can only work in a society where people are ignorant (on purpose or not).

    Finally, I would suggest people who are interested in history to see "Che Part One" and Two. Those are better movies, which, at least to me don't seem to be made to discredit Fidel, Che or Cuba. They are accurate and were displayed on the cinemas in Cuba and people reportedly applauded. That's how movies should be made. For people, not against them. Same goes for acting (which was terrible in this movie).
  • This film was well done technically, although the bias was so prevalent toward posing Castro as a monster with a gentleman's intellect that it felt fictional to anyone who understands modern Cuban history, not necessarily even sypathizes with Castro.

    So, one can put this film on top of the pile of disinformation concerning Cuba and Castro that has been building devotedly in Miami by the displaced Cuban business class who fled Cuba long ago.

    Castro is a controversial figure that inspires ideas and debate, not two-dimensional character assassination. His greatest friend in the world is Gabriel Garcia Marquez afterall.

    I noticed another reviewer said Castro was worse than Saddam. This should prove my point quite clearly.
  • diego-luna21 November 2002
    Just for the note, I'm not Diego Luna, that's just my nickname =P

    Showtime's Fidel has a good start. Terrible ending. Pretty bad for us lefties. Very yankee-made, which doesn't make the film objective at all. Lefties... be warned. Right wingers... enjoy.
  • I watched this with utter amazement at the inconceivably sympathetic treatment of a monster.

    SHOWTIME obviously has no limits lately. How about a REAL HISTORY of the HORRORS which Castro bestowed upon Cubans?

    Castro jailed and assassinated anyone who did not agree with him. The numbers of individuals who were "removed" for even thinking something different from him is legendary.

    This program was no doubt well acted. The main characters were mostly presented in basically recognizable fashion. What was totally comical was the use of Mexican citizens of obvious indigenous descent as extras in some scenes. If anything, there should have been more African descendants used - which is now closer to the truth after a large number of the Spanish descended citizens have moved to the United States.

    I watched this program with tears in my eyes. Knowing that this was the man that robbed Cuba of it's true freedom.

    How can Fidel be portrayed as truthfully saying that his revolution has been successful if thousands attempt to flee the island continually in view of shark infested waters?

    The Story of Fidel and Cuba has not been told with this program. For that - my vote is quite low.
  • Georgie Anne Geyer's book on Castro was one of the sources for this "Fidel," which I saw just last night on cable. I know a lot about this really good reporter on Latin American affairs, who was at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, a few years before I majored in journalism at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

    And also I was in college from 1957-1961, a college with students from all over the world, and I was hearing a lot about Battista in 1958 and 1959 and why he should be ousted.

    In three hours anyone who sees this version of "Fidel" can gain insight into why and how Castro gained power in Cuba. His excesses have come from not wanting to lose that power.
  • As Hemingway wrote, "A murderous tyranny pervades every village in the island". For the fool who wrote that Castro robbed Cuba of its true freedom, this was written before the popular revolution from within, not imposed from outside, which overthrew a regime so corrupt even the Mafia didn't have to break the law. Some Mafia moved to Miami, none of whom were African or mulatto. As portrayed, Batista's troops were fairly treated, as soldiers who joined because no other work was available and under corrupt officers who would rather be in the cities collecting their kickbacks. No wonder so many troops went over to the rebels! Too bad it lacked the antecedent showing Castro as the most popular politician in Cuba before the revolution -running for their Congress and hailed as a future President. Batista's 1952 coup wherein he seized power, dissolved Congress, and canceled elections rated less than a minute. Castro sued Batista for Illegal Succession! Flee Cuba? Much greater numbers flee Latin America, Mexico, Guatemala (where they have death squads) and even our Most Favored Trade partner China. They do it for economic opportunity. ONLY Cubans are allowed to remain if they make it ashore; sometimes employing people smugglers with no regard for life. U.S. Immigration grants a few hundred visas to Cubans annually, not the 20,000 and more we agreed to; Nonetheless arriving here illegally is OK. Anyone who has flown to Cuba has met Cubans aboard returning home, then seen no military presence there, and maybe noted that some Cuban cops don't even carry guns. Yes, I've been there a number of times. Don't like that? Stuff it, fool! What are fools and liars like Enrique afraid we'll see down there? Hmmm, maybe one is that they have multiple candidates for each office, need not be party members or millionaires to win, that 1/3 of the National Assembly are not party members. Ride in a cab in Cuba; you may well hear a Florida station selected on its radio. Bring T-shirts bearing logos of U.S. products, teams, and stars & stripes, even "U S Army". They make great gifts, are commonly worn, and no, fool, they don't disappear from the streets as they did in Chile.
  • As a student of the Cuban Revolution, I was curious to see it portrayed in film. Ultimately, "Fidel" was a let down. The first part of the movie, showing the revolutionizing of Fidel Castro, was very interesting, but once the revolution was over I quickly grew bored. And I was only halfway through the film. The main problem for me was too much dialogue and not enough action. And about 80% of that dialogue seemed to belong to Fidel. Understandably, the movie is about Fidel Castro, and I suppose I shouldn't expect otherwise, but the result was that other characters seemed more like scenery than real people. As a fan of both Che Guevara and Gael Garcia Bernal, I was especially interested in his character. However, I was left especially disappointed by Che's one-dimensional portrayal. It is probable that the other supporting characters were similarly portrayed incompletely, but Che was the most glaring for me since I have studied his history more closely.

    On the plus side, this movie neither glorifies nor demonizes Fidel Castro excessively, providing a basic and even-handed (although not always completely accurate) summary of the Cuban Revolution if you are someone who knows nothing about it. But from an entertainment standpoint, "Fidel" is long-winded and rather dull.

    Oh, and what really bothered me was that the dialogue should have been in Spanish with subtitles! I suppose English language makes it more accessible to the American audience it was intended for, but it was weird for me.
  • With an engaging first half this Made for Cable Mini-Series is of two very separate Minds. Informative and Entertaining as the Genesis of the controversial and Dynamic Leader of the "People", this is a welcome and unbiased beginning.

    However, after Castro rises to the top of the Cuban Political Dysfunctional mess, this becomes weak, facile and it seems to have no momentum or intelligence. The post 1959 Revolution and its aftermath is confusing and loses its ability to Entertain as a Showpiece and inform as a Biography or even a semi-inclusive analysis of the machinations of the Mind/Leadership of this enduring 20th Century Anti-Establishment icon.

    There is so much left unanswered or glossed over and not much of any Political Science or Philosophy. It rests on Platitudes and Sound Bites, Images and Imagination of events, unwilling to dig deep or at least present events with enough substance to be stimulating.

    The Production wavers from very good pasted over with some lame and less than Dramatic effects and clichéd visual cheap shots. Not a bad introduction to the Man within His Time and Place, but considering its length, leaves the Viewer with an ambiguous feeling of the Man and His Mission, the overall effect on the Cuban People and in the end is weakened by a very weak ending.
  • Much better movies have been made about Fidel, but what I find interesting is the terrible job that Sacksteder did in reviewing this film. In the first place, trying to appear as someone knowledgeable of the Cuban revolution, he doesn't even know the name of the dictator that Fidel deposed. His name is Batista, Jack. Takes talent to murder such an easy name. In the second place, did the reviewer attempt to review the film or simply make disparaging comments about a man that is to this day considered an idol and certainly a liberator of his people in most of Latin America? The move as said has had better treatment of this subject. It is banal in its approach and does not disguise the politics of those responsible for this production.
  • I don't know who posted the comment before, but they obviously have no idea what the hell they're talking about. I am Cuban-American born and raised in the United States. I have been to Cuba and seen the utter poverty that the people live in. And even though Batista's government wasn't the best the people did not live in poverty like they do now. My grandfather died in the Bay of Pigs after being asked by Castro to join his regime. Just because he was a revolutionary doesn't mean his revolution was right. He killed many innocent people along the way to his political success and lied to all the people. How can someone be so ignorant to say long live Fidel when they obviously have no idea what they are talking about. The same goes for Che Guevara. I don't want to paint him as evil because in all reality he didn't know Castro was going to do what he did, but he did kill many innocent people in the name of "The Revolution." He was not the freedom fighter many "IGNORANT" people portray him to be, but a radical fanatic.
  • This film is as if aliens who know or care nothing about either leftist or rightist politics came from another planet and catalogued Fidel's rise to power in Cuba. It very objectively chronicles the good and bad about the regime and pulls no punches.

    Undoubtedly, there is a considerable amount more bad than good about Castro (note: to those of you whose demonize Pinochet, Castro was worse) but we get the point just the same without having to catharticly dwell on the killed, tortured, exiled, and imprisoned souls of Cuba. Just gives us the facts... nice one.
  • The "gentleman" who commented on this film is obviously, and completely, biased against the good work that Fidel Castro and the Revolutionary movement did in Cuba...

    to quote from the film:

    On the American government...

    "Before 1959, all you wanted to do was exploit us. After 1959, all you wanted to do was destroy us. Now tell me...is THIS democracy?"

    Fidel Castro saved Cuba from the plight that so many small nations suffer from. United States Domination Syndrome. Look at Jamaica...the ads show smiling faces and sunny shores when 85% of the country lives in abject squalor as other countries and the rich within Jamaica profit from the hard work of the people.

    Long live Castro and the revolutionaries around the world who fight against oppression and domination in the name of money.

    This was an excellent film.
  • Perhaps the director put Castro as a killer or cold blood assassin, it give us a good point of view about what happened in Cuba and the Castro revolution. After seeing it, one can aware of the importance of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara in the Cuban revolution and why he is now an icon for any who is in favor of this kind of ideology and government. Also, the director show Castro as a father, a husband, an ideologist, but misses very important points in the career to the revolution, when he visited Colombia in representation of the Cuban Comunist Party. Also, misses how important in the Castro's ideology has become Gabriel García Marquez.

    This movie could be the perfect follow up for Motorcycle Diary, the history of Che Guevara before the revolution in Cuba and his friendship with Fidel
  • I am confused as to the role of Mr John Sacksteder from this site. My understanding was that he was supposed to summarise the film, whereas what he did was attack the film for not portraying Fidel Castro the way he feels he should be portrayed. I suggest that Mr Sacksteder sticks to summarising the piece of work before him rather than politically attacking the real life character. He may wish to be informed that Cuba is superior to the United Kingdom and the United States with regard to health, education and true democracy. All Cubans elect locally in the provinces local people from the province to represent their views at the General Council. Stick to being a film critic, Mr Sacksteder, rather than a mouthpiece for the anti Cuban lobby.
  • clarkca6 February 2004
    This was as good as some of the more minor Cuban movies that are based in historical fact. However, the best movie is 'Before Night Falls' which is more professionally done, very compelling, and completely unvarnished on how brutal the dictatorship is. 'Fidel' did show the emptiness and lies of communism/socialism or as they call it, 'the revolution'. Soon there were shortages, rationing, a deteriorating standard of living, and of course, no freedom or rights for anyone except the ruling class; Fidel and his henchmen. Oh, it also demonstrates how utterly ignorant of basic economics Fidel is and how irrational and erratic he is.
  • So if I am not mistaken, this TV movie is produced by the people in the USA. I am already impressed by this single fact. Where else in the world, can people have the freedom to produce a movie about the enemy whom their own government is banned to have any contact with? And the USA government certainly didn't have to pre-prove this TV movie before it was broadcasted. USA is not a perfect world, but people do enjoy the freedom of expression.

    I don't know much about Castro, and I would like to believe that those people really made an honest movie about him. The performance is great. At first, I didn't think that Víctor Huggo Martin was a good actor, but as time goes on, I started to believe his character. I don't know where the casting director found those actors, they all speak English with an Spanish accent which made this movie a little more authentic.

    Since this movie is over 3 hours long, it was hard to remember what things happened in which year. I hope that when they reproduce the DVD again, they can add something extra on the screen, such as "xx years after 1953." So the audiences can know how long it has been since the the revolution started.

    Overall, this could be an inspiring movie. Fidel started with one single man, and he was crazy enough to believe that he can take over the whole Cuba, and he was able to inspire all the others to follow him to win the country.
  • The movie shows how president Fidel Castro fought the injustice of a dictator that oppressed an entire country. In a story that closely resembles the true story of the Cuban revolutionary, "Fidel" shows how the people of Cuba could no longer tolerate the insults of their government and the foreign countries that took advantage of the corruption to make a few extra books at the expense of the country of Cuba. The movie starts with a simple yet important example of the way the country's ideology was treated by their guests.

    I think for the most part this is a good movie that projects the unwillingness of a country to continue to be treated like slaves.