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Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)
"Memorias del subdesarrollo" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  17 May 1973 (USA)
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Sergio (Sergio Corrieri - Soy Cuba), through his life following the departure of his wife, parents and friends in the wake of the Bay of Pigs incident. Alone in a brave new world, Sergio ... See full summary »


(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)

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Complete credited cast:
Sergio Corrieri ...
Sergio Carmona Mendoyo
Daisy Granados ...
Eslinda Núñez ...
Omar Valdés ...
René de la Cruz ...
Elena's brother
Yolanda Farr
Ofelia González
Jose Gil Abad
Daniel Jordan
Luis López
Rafael Sosa
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Eduardo Casado Revuelta
René Depestre ...
Himself / Panelist
Edmundo Desnoes ...
Pello el Afrokán


Sergio (Sergio Corrieri - Soy Cuba), through his life following the departure of his wife, parents and friends in the wake of the Bay of Pigs incident. Alone in a brave new world, Sergio observes the constant threat of foreign invasion while chasing young women all over Havana before finally meeting Elena (Daisy Granados), a young virgin girl he seeks to mould into the image of his ex-wife, but at what cost to himself? Written by Mr Bongo

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Release Date:

17 May 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Memories of Underdevelopment  »

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Technical Specs


| (TV)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


When the US National Society of Film Critics awarded the film a special prize in 1973, Alea was denied a visa to attend the ceremony. See more »


Followed by Memorias del desarrollo (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

T.G. Alea's classic film

One of two main reasons why Memorias del subdesarrollo is so admired, is the still valid assertion it makes, regarding Cuba (and Latin America and perhaps the so-called Third World): "Everything here remains the same", utters Sergio, its protagonist, as he watches La Habana through a telescope. The phrase still rings today in every corner, after convulse decades in which the promises of new societies vanished. Sergio lives in the margin of the dynamic ambiance supplied by Cuban revolution in the 1960s. His position as observer allows him to listen to phrases which are yet commonplace: "The Americans know very well how to make things work", says his friend Pablo, adding "I'm leaving this country" because "I am not like them" (the people). The definition of underdevelopment, according to Sergio, is inspired by the attitudes of Pablo or young Elena, a girl he has an erotic liaison with, after his wife leaves the country. Pablo is the rootless and boastful "cretin" who thinks he will be "improved" in a different décor. Elena, according to Sergio, is a walking inconstancy: inconsequent, pure alteration and unable to "sustain a feeling or an idea without dispersion". And he adds: "That is one of the signs of underdevelopment: the incapacity to relate things, to accumulate experience, and evolve". The audience has the advantage of watching that neither any thing accumulates in this frustrated writer and ex owner of a furniture store and a building of apartments, who decided to stay to watch the effects of revolution, but who does not understand anything. Minimized by his surroundings (illustrated in an eloquent shot in the levee of La Habana, while he walks with huge waves behind him breaking against the wall), when the missile crisis suddenly explodes in October 1962, Sergio clings to his ghosts, in a montage of his living interiors counterpointed by images of the Cuban people getting ready to confront another invasion. In this sense Memorias del subdesarrollo is also a film of spaces, open and closed, that evoke fragments of time that only exist in Sergio's memory: the house of a rich childhood friend; a whore house, the school of Hannah, his first love; Ernest Hemingway's house, the department store El Encanto, his own apartment. The other main reason why "Memorias del subdesarrollo" is so admired and still relevant half a century after its release, is its condition as one of the best examples of the cultural and political discourses of its decade and, in particular, of 1968, a year of confrontations and ruptures. As other peaks of world cinema released that year, the film is a model of the confluence of the aesthetic and ideological vanguards of its time. It illustrates the characteristic post-modern appropriation of several sources to elaborate a discourse: elements of fiction taken from a novel mixed with documentary resources; melodrama placed besides direct cinema; posters and newspaper headlines that gives us the time frame and serve as ironic commentaries; photos of Sergio's life; engravings of Black slavery, faces of kids illustrating some kind of report about children's death rate in Latin America, a tour to Hemingway's house, a montage about the prisoners of the Playa Girón invasion. Audiovisual elements as a speech by Fidel Castro coexist with resources directly created for the film, as his taping of his wife's protests during a marital quarrel. The result is awesome, an intense search of cinematic expression that owes a lot to film editor Nelson Rodríguez. Although Alea had already made several films of merit, his fifth feature is a milestone in the evolution of Cuban film industry, of Latin American cinema and world vanguard drama. "Memorias del subdesarrollo" deserves very well its high place in critical appreciation and, even though it endorses transformations, change and the no-permanency of certain creeds and ways of seeing the world, the reasons that give it enduring merit remain as reference and legacy for future filmmakers from all over the world.

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