I Am Cuba

One of the most deliriously beautiful films ever made.


I Am Cuba

Started only a week after the Cuban missile crisis and designed to be Cuba's answer to both Sergei Eisenstein's propaganda masterpiece Potemkin and Jean-Luc Godard's freewheeling romance Breathless, I Am Cuba turned out to be something quite unique — a wildly schizophrenic celebration of Communist kitsch, mixing Slavic solemnity with Latin sensuality. The plot, or rather plots, feverishly explore the seductive, decadent (and marvelously photogenic) world of Batista's Cuba — deliriously juxtaposing images of rich Americans and bikini-clad beauties sipping cocktails poolside with scenes of ramshackle slums filled with hungry children and gaunt old people. Using wide-angle lenses that distort and magnify and filters that transform palm trees into giant white feathers, Urusevsky's acrobatic camera achieves wild gravity-defying angles as it glides effortlessly through long continuous shots. But I Am Cuba is not just a catalog of bravura technique — it also succeeds in exploring the innermost feelings of the characters and their often desperate situations. Shown unsubtitled at the San Francisco International Film Festival, I Am Cuba received two standing ovations — during the screening. The first movie ever jointly presented by master filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, I Am Cuba is one of the great discoveries in cinema. It will change your view of cinema forever!

“There’s no way to describe [it] except as a rhapsody on the themes of Cuban vitality and liberty... From the decadent fleshpots of Havana under Batista to the gathering of insurrectionaries in the mountains... A holiday of the senses.” – David Thomson
Not Rated
Drama, History, War
Spanish, English
Mikhail Kalatozov
Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

This quite extraordinary film was last re-released in the UK three years ago and then as now, I am baffled as to why it isn't in everyone's Top 10 lists. Made in 1964, it is a Soviet-Cuban celluloid love letter to the Castro revolution, filmed in beautiful, pellucid monochrome. It is strident, yes ...

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