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I Am Cuba (1964)

Cast: Sergio Corrieri, Sergio Corrieri, Salvador Wood, more...
Director: Mikhail Kalatozov, Mikhail Kalatozov
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Image Entertainment
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Russia, Experimental/Avant-Garde, Latin America
Running Time: 140 min.
Languages: Spanish, Russian
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

An unabashed exercise in cinema stylistics, I Am Cuba is pro-Castro/anti-Batista rhetoric dressed up in the finest clothes. The film's four dramatic stories take place in the final days of the Batista regime; the first two illustrate the ills that led to the revolution, the third and fourth the call to arms which cut across social and economic lines. A lovely young woman in a nightclub frequented by crass American businessmen takes a customer to her modest seaside shack for a night of pleasure for pay, only to be found out by her street vendor suitor; a tenant farmer is told that his crop has been sold to United Fruit and in frustration burns his fields; a middle-class student rallies his pals and workers in a street demonstration against the regime; a peasant eking out a living in the mountains quickly converts to the cause when Batista bombers strafe his land in search of rebel fighters. At face value, this is all obvious agitprop, but director Mikhail Kalazatov turned his cinematographer, Sergei Urusevsky, loose, and the result is a procession of dazzling black-and-white images, shot with a camera that is almost always moving and soaring over the sugar fields, swooping in and out of urban buildings, following characters down narrow streets. Unreleasable to American theaters during the Cold War, I Am Cuba, through the auspices of filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, got a belated U.S. release in 1995 and has proved to be both a time capsule of a fading political movement and a timeless work of cinematic art. ~ Tom Wiener, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Perhaps Greatest Cinematography Ever by JMVerville December 6, 2004 - 8:49 PM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
The story of this film is right out of yellow journalism (or should one say 'Red Journalism?') and it is, in short, not much more than a string of stories that portray Communist propaganda at its' best. But when we put this aside, and do not think about the laughable attempts at portraying Americans and the various melodramatic scenes, we can really find one tremendous aspect of this film...

The cinematography is absolutely breath-taking. From the first scene to the last scene I really have to say that I have not seen better cinematography yet. Sergei Urusevsky really knew what he was doing, and I am motivated to see his other films just because of how impressed I was with his work. I am sure not many of us these days are Communists who believe in the great values of Fidel Castro and are ready to go to the mountains of the Sierra Maestra and fight with him against the imperialist government backed by United Fruit Company, but hey, this really is an amazing film to look at. I could find myself going from scene to scene, and trying to figure out how a lot of it was shot, my mind lighting up like a Christmas tree, stimulated by the artwork of Sergei Urusevsky.

I really have to say, if you have any interest in cinematography (no matter how small) this would be the one film that I would recommend above all others. Rarely do I get that interested in the cinematography of a film, but this really is an amazing exception. The crew must be very happy and pleased with the work that they did with Sergei Urusevsky. The overall content of the film is mostly mediocre with some decent ideals and interesting stories thrown in, and really challenges the viewer (if they are not a Communist) to see the world through their eyes. But when push comes to shove... You could watch this film on mute and be struck by it.

Anyone interested in the art of cinematography and filming, this film could be your Bible, and Sergei Urusevsky could be your Messiah.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 8.08)
99 Votes
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Indianapolis International Film Festival
Films that showed at the Indianapolis International Film Festival - which began in 2004
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the tiny island that stands up and raises its fist against the empire

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