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I Am Cuba (1964)
"Soy Cuba" (original title)

 |  Drama, Music, War  |  December 1995 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 5,486 users  
Reviews: 55 user | 70 critic

This study of Cuba--partially written by renowned poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko--captures the island just before it made the transition to a post-revolutionary society. Moving from city to ... See full summary »

Director:

(as Mijail Kalatozov)

Writers:

, (as Evgueny Evtushenko)
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Title: I Am Cuba (1964)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sergio Corrieri ...
Alberto
Salvador Wood
José Gallardo ...
Pedro
Raúl García ...
Enrique
Luz María Collazo ...
Maria / Betty
Jean Bouise ...
Jim (in Cuban version) (as Jean Bouisse)
Alberto Morgan
Celia Rodriguez ...
Gloria (in Cuban version) (as Zilia Rodríguez)
Fausto Mirabal
Roberto García York ...
American activist
María de las Mercedes Díez
Bárbara Domínguez
Jesús del Monte ...
(as Isis del Monte)
Luisa María Jiménez ...
Teresa
Mario González Broche ...
Pablo (in Cuban version) (as Mario González)
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Storyline

This study of Cuba--partially written by renowned poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko--captures the island just before it made the transition to a post-revolutionary society. Moving from city to country and back again, I AM CUBA examines the various problems caused by political oppression as well as by great discrepancies in wealth and power. Beginning in Havana in the pre-Castro era, we see how foreigners contributed to the city's prostitution and poverty; this sequence features dreamy, hallucinogenic camera work that creates a feeling of unease and dislocation. Then, in glorious images of palm tress and fertile land, the film looks at the sugar cane fields in the countryside, and the difficulties faced by peasants working the land. Finally, back in the city again, leftist students battle the police and a corrupt government--and pay a high price for their rebellion. Written by Mr Bongo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

land | peasant | police | student | cuba | See All (235) »

Genres:

Drama | Music | War

Certificate:

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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

December 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I Am Cuba  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$160,697 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The now famous long take that begins at the top of the hotel, then winds around and down into the swimming pool, originally come out of the water and continued. The camera was hand held, passed from crew member to crew member, to make its way down the side of the hotel into the pool. The camera lens had been equipped with a high speed, spinning glass disk taken from a submarine periscope. The spinning disk was installed to fling water drops of the lens when the camera emerged from the swimming pool at the end of the shot. Much to the disappointment of the camera crew, director Mikhail Kalatozov cut the end of the take, ending it underwater. See more »

Quotes

Pedro: I used to think the most terrifying thing in life is death. Now I know the most terrifying thing in life is life.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Extra Man (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

A pinnacle of cinematic art
18 November 2002 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

"Don't avert your eyes. Look! I am Cuba. For you, I am the casino, the bar, hotels and brothels. But the hands of these children and old people are also me" -- Yevgeni Yevtushenko

I Am Cuba is described by film critic Elliot Wilhelm as "a unique, insane, exhilarating spectacle". Filmed in Spanish, dubbed in Russian, and subtitled in English, this unique collaboration between Russian director Mikhail Kalatozov (The Cranes are Flying), the poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko, and writer Enrique Pineda Barnet dramatizes the conditions that led to the 1959 Cuban revolution. Originally made in 1964 (and unpopular both in Russia and Cuba), it was released in 1995 through the combined efforts of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola.

I Am Cuba is set in the late 1950s when a ragtag bunch of students, workers, and peasants organized to overthrow the corrupt regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista. The film is divided into four sequences. The first depicts the American-run gambling casinos and prostitution in Havana. The next shows a farmer burning his sugar cane when he learns he is going to lose his land to United Fruit. Another describes the suppression of students and dissenters at Havana University, and the final sequence shows how government bombing of mountain fields induced farmers to join with the rebels in the Sierra Maestre mountains. The final scene is a triumphal march into Havana to proclaim the revolution.

Marvelously photographed in black and white by Sergei Urusevsky and using acrobatic camerawork by Alexandr Kalzaty, some of the shots and distorted camera angles are so staggering as to be virtually unbelievable. In one sequence, the camera lifts off from a hotel rooftop, takes in the Havana skyline, descends several floors, winds its way through the poolside party-goers, and then takes you for a swim in the pool in one continuous shot. Reminiscent of Sergei Eisenstein, the caricatures are broad but are presented with such exuberance that it hardly seems to matter. Audacious and imaginative, I Am Cuba is a revelation, not only for its style but also for its inspiration. Filmed with true visionary poetry, I Am Cuba transcends the genre of advocacy filmmaking to reach a pinnacle of cinematic art.


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