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Cuba: An African Odyssey
Cuba An African Odyssey
Actor: Cuba: An African Odyssey
Director: Jihan El Tahri
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
UR     2008     3hr 10min

This revealing, award-winning documentary adds to our understanding of the Cold War through its least-known context Africa. — From 1961 to 1991, the Dark Continent was a battleground for four different competing interests. ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Cuba: An African Odyssey
Director: Jihan El Tahri
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Studio: ARTE
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/22/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 3hr 10min
Screens: Black and White,Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Political-historical documentary making at its best
Catalpa | 12/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Cuba: An African Odyssey is a brilliantly-executed documentary on Cuban involvement in Africa from the 1960s to the 1980s. It's a two-dvd package, the first dealing mainly with Congo in the early 60s, the second with Cuba's intervention in Angola in the 70s and 80s. The director Jihan El-Tahri includes interviews with many of the power-players involved, from Fidel Castro to Pik Botha. It includes fabulous archive footage, in particular of Congo at the time of Lumumba's assassination. Then CIA station chief Larry Devlin puts his version on the record. It documents Che Guevara's intervention in the Eastern Congo, which, strangely, is sometimes hilarious. The Cubans age well. Some of them look like they could do it all again, almost fifty years later. It's the best high-profile documentary I've seen, and that's unqualified. It gives the viewer a crash-course in the sequence of cynicism that resulted in the manmade tragedy of Sub-Saharan Africa today. Watching old men trying to make their peace before they meet their maker can be far more revealing than the subject of the interview realises. Absolutely excellent, I'm buying it for Christmas for all my friends."
Too much sweet on a bitter reality
MamboCha. | Cherry Hill, N.J. US | 01/06/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Sadly this documentary, like many others dealing with Castro and the USSR, has its good doze of romanticized stupidity, all signature of the typical leftist elements who since the 1950s have adopted the subject of Castro and the USSR to incessantly sugar-coated and idolized them out of mere daringness, shamelessness, and stupidity (idolized from far, of course). Although this documentary indeed covers a lot of facts, it fails to truly expose the realities of Castro's slavish nature, his lies, and his unpardonable betrayal and destruction of the Cuban republic. In other words, it fails to expose Castro's real motives and rather clings more on Castro's out dated communist rhetoric and fraudulent propaganda than on the man's reality. In doing this, it distorts, and it sustains the absurdity of portraying Castro's involvement and interest in Africa as separate from that of the USSR and most absurd of all, as "anti-imperialistic".

First of all, anyone who truly knows of such matters knows that if there is a needed element for the survival of communism, it is expansion, and that when it came to imperialistic efforts no one was more desperate and dedicated than the Soviets and communists in general. Why? Because unadulterated communism is a system that deliberately destroys the national economy to center itself, despite its mediocrity, as the only power, voice, national entity, and provider. This extreme level of control, I may add, is achieved by employing a totalitarian sect like level of 24/7 bombardment of lies, dictation, isolation, repression, aggression, and intimidation. Such forms of government know, and knew, that they could not outperform the productivity and wealth of the capitalistic word and thus needed to implant satellite states to gain and secure resources without the need of a real economy, simple as that, and that IS much more than imperialism in itself. Go ask Chinese communist officials why they later allowed a capitalist economy under a communist regime at the sight of seeing the Soviet Union collapse.

Castro, a self-centered man who has ruined and enslaved his own nation for more than half a century under a purely economically retarded and patriotically offensive Stalinist manner, was not in Africa to liberate anyone but rather attempting to expand communism on the side of the USSR who in turn was financing, arming, and granting Castro the glory so that Cuban soldiers, not Soviet, shed the blood on a war that was ultimately a Soviet orchestration. At the end, Castro was comfortably doing in Africa what he had always dreamed of doing in Latin America but was never able to do in such an open manner. His distant attempts in Bolivia, Colombia, Central America, and Grenada all failed. The closest he ever got in America to such a direct communist colonizing act was in Chile, and at the wake of such a national fatality the Chilean military didn't take long to take over and not leave a single communist standing (today Chile has one of the highest standards of living in Latin America, and Cuba who once had the largest middle class per-capita of all Latin America, is today a crumbling ruin). As a result, for such an ego-maniac like Castro this African odyssey meant a lot (including a box full of diamonds according to an exiled body guard), and for the benefit and future of Cuba and Cubans, like everything Castro has done, it meant absolutely nothing.

To truly understand a big part of Cuba's reality and the why of its unfortunate destiny I strongly recommend the book "Fidel, Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant" by Cuban author Humberto Fontova. The man eats, drinks, and dreams Cuba and could not have put it in a more real way. This documentary on the other hand, must be seen with a previous knowledge to detect the garbage and connect the real dots as they come; otherwise, you will just be seeing another edited and watered down romantic take on a cold, destructive, power-hungry, and opportunistic psychopath that truly has no romanticism whatsoever."