A most acclaimed discovery, I Am Cuba will change your view of cinema forever! Filmed by great Russian director Mikhail Kalatozov (The Cranes Are Flying), I Am Cuba is an epic poem to Communist kitsch--a whirling, fever... more »ish dance through the sensuous decadence of Battista's Havana and the grinding poverty and oppression of the Cuban people. Presented jointly by master directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, I Am Cuba has received universal acclaim and admiration from around the world as a true classic of world cinema. In Spanish and Russian with English subtitles. 140 minutes.« less
"This beautiful film reveals the poetic possibilities of cinema. I am Cuba is a 1964 Cuban/Soviet film produced by director Mikhail Kalatozov (The Cranes are Flying). The Soviet government commissioned Kalatozov to create a film promoting international socialism; what it got instead was "an avante-garde freakout that continues to cast a spell over filmmakers" (New York Times, 11/20/2007, p. B8) including Martin Scorsese, who has been campaigning to restore the movie since the 1990s. Kalatozov was given almost total freedom to complete the film, and the resulting work continues to amaze cinephiles with its long, breathtaking camera shots (using a wide angle lens). In one scene, Kalatozov's camera moves among the contestants of a beauty contest, exits the building, makes a two story descent into a smoky club, circles around several bartenders, and then actually enters a swimming pool. (Paul Thomas Anderson used this same shot in his film, Boogie Nights.) In another famous scene, the camera follows a coffin along a crowded street, and then ascends upwards for at least four stories until it is filming the coffin from above a building, where it enters the building through a window into a cigar factory, where workers are watching the coffin in the street below. A highly recommended artistic film experience revealing the power of cinema.
This new special edition of I am Cuba includes Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0; optional English subtitles; a new high-definition transfer of the feature film from original Russian 35mm; a video interview with Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese; language tracks in both Spanish and Russian with new English subtitles; Cuban version of opening credits; original Milestone trailer; "THE SIBERIAN MAMMOTH," Vicente Ferraz's award-winning documentary on the making of I AM CUBA; City Cinematheque's Jerry Carlson interviews screenwriter Yevgeny Yevtushenko; "A FILM ABOUT MIKHAIL KALATOZOV," and I AM CUBA: THE TRUE STORY, a booklet on the making of the film and its history since then.
Image's DVD transfer of a great film is for the dogs...
Charlie G. Dodson | 02/02/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Understand this: I am fanatical about this movie. But Image's DVD transfer is so painfully inept to watch -- horrid print, spots and speckles, strobing due to oddball frame rate, hideous contrast levels -- that I couldn't bear to watch the DVD beyond 10 minutes.The person responsible for such an incompetent and abysmal edition of this can't miss movie should be flayed alive in front of all true lovers of cinema. Image, which chopped 10 minutes out of JULIET OF THE SPIRITS despite the representations of the packaging, is the Good Times Video of DVD. That they would do such a worthless job for a Fellini film is cause for anger. That they would due this again to Kalazotov is sacrilegous."
American propaganda clearly is effective...
Charlie G. Dodson | California | 02/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...judging by the simple-minded dismissive tone of some of the reviewers on this page.
When you say you know nothing about Cuba's history, and then dismiss "I Am Cuba" as propaganda, you are displaying both your own ignorance and the success of the American propaganda machine in conditioning Americans to accept simplistic answers to complex questions.
"I Am Cuba" is a beautiful film, and makes no attempt to portray itself as even-handed. The assumption is that we already know what the white Cuban elite wants us to know. This is explicitly the story of those the elite would prefer to pretend do not exist.
Having lived overseas, I'm sorry to say the grotesque images of American businessmen and the arrogant debauchery of sailors on leave in a 3rd World country are depressingly accurate, especially for the time depicted. And exactly whom do we think is fueling the international child sex trade today, if not wealthy Americans "on vacation"?
Cuba and the USA have a long and tortured history. Cuba's white elite sought to atrtach Cuba to the US prior to our Civil War, so as to perpetuate slavery on their sugar plantations. That same elite allowed the US to assume control over Cuba after the Spanish-American War, when the Platt Ammendment gave the US government extraordinary control over Cuba's internal politics as well as foriegn policy. No good could come of all those "coloreds" having democracy, certainly not a few nautical miles away from our "coloreds"! Later, we changed our minds: the problem with the poor isn't that they're black, it's that they're Communist sympathizers. We trained Batista, kept him in power, and with American corporate investment Cuba became essentially a sick amalgam of plantation and whore-house, with a monsterous gap between the mainly white elite and the rest of the population.
The one "sympathetic" businessman debauches the young taxi-dancer, and then wants to buy her one treasured posession. A clear if obvious metaphor for the "good intentions" of Americans who are as oblivious to the realities of the world as that guy was on his way to her shack. On the way out, it's a lot clearer.
Cuba is a flawed country today, but one where everyone has access to education and healthcare, two issues raised specifically in "I Am Cuba". Whatever happens in the future, it is difficult to imagine the disgruntled elites camped out in Miami being welcomed back to their nightclubs and haciendas any time soon. "I AM Cuba" makes a simple point: the Cuban exiles in Miami are NOT Cuba; in the truest sense, they never really were, and they certainly never will be again."
Don't forget that USSR banned this film!
John Ronald | Sugar Land, Texas | 09/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had the pleasure to view this film on wide-screen at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts cinema venue back around 1996 or so. It was utterly breathtaking...and a special treat for me since I also speak Spanish and Russian as foreign languages (I for one, didn't mind the subtle Russian dubbing following the sentences in Spanish & English). I notice most of the reviewers comment on it's role as a "communist propoganda film". Yes, well, the film tries hard to follow the "Socialist Realist" of 'official' Soviet Art, but it (thankfully utterly) fails to do so and slides breathlessly into a "Magical Realist" mode with elements that Soviet critics would have disdained as "metaphysical". Indeed, the remarkable thing is that this film was BANNED in the USSR *and* CUBA shortly after its release. Didn't sit well with the Politburo, etc. The cinematography is wonderful. Yes, it is critical of the Norteamericanos, but the film does not demonize them. Think of the scene w/ the American sailors...I was anticipating a fight and a violent rape...but it doesn't happen. The film could have been much harsher on the US than it was. I may very well buy this film on VHS. I'm happy to see it available for rent at my local Blockbuster's."
I Am Cuba
B. Brown | Atlanta, GA United States | 02/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know any filmmakers who are not stunned by this visual masterpiece. The hand held shot that traverses a hotel in decadent, pre-Castro Cuba is the stuff of legend- a long moving camera shot that floats through space as if suspended by magic. And this was before the steady-cam was invented. The opening aerials shot with infrared film alone justify this film's 5 star rating. You don't have to take the politics seriously to admire the fluid camera work and unique aural-visual style of this little seen master work."