In 1830s Havana, amidst the Cuban independence movement, social climber Cecilia Valdés uses santería to conquer Leonardo Gamboa, the son of a rich colonialist family.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Daisy Granados ...
Cecilia
...
Leonardo
Raquel Revuelta ...
Madre de Leonardo
Miguel Benavides
Eslinda Núñez
Nelson Villagra
César Évora
Linda Mirabal
José Antonio Rodríguez ...
Uribe
Antonia Valdés
Gerardo Riverón
Omara Portuondo
María Regla Gutiérrez
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
General Vives
Alberto Molina ...
El Mayoral
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Storyline

In 1830s Havana, amidst the Cuban independence movement, social climber Cecilia Valdés uses santería to conquer Leonardo Gamboa, the son of a rich colonialist family. Written by Edgar Soberón Torchia <cimas@sinfo.net>

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Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

10 August 1984 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

Cecylia  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Humberto Solás' Favorite Film

If Humberto Solás were still alive he would laugh at those calling "Cecilia" melodramatic cinema as if it were a fault, when that was probably the genre he felt at home as a filmmaker and what he intended to do with the film. In his best-regarded motion picture, "Lucía" (1968), it was obvious that he enjoyed more than anything else the first of the three stories, taking place in the 19th century. So it was not strange that he revisited period melodrama, this time with the biggest budget ever had by a Cuban film at that time (or perhaps ever), to make a more-than-free adaptation of Cirilo Villaverde's "Cecilia Valdés o La Loma del Ángel" (Cecilia Valdés, or The Hill of the Angel), considered the national novel in Cuba. Solás and his team of scriptwriters —including his longtime companion, film editor Nelson Rodríguez; Jorge Ramos, and Nelson's cousin, Norma Torrado, a Santera and film editor of Santiago Álvarez's classic documentaries— intended to give the old novel some relevance in the present (from a Marxist point of view, as he declared), even introducing elements of the Yoruba religion called Santería, and establishing a parallel between what was left of the story told by Villaverde, and the fable of two of the main gods of the Yoruba Olympus: the sensual Ochún and her lover Shangó, echoed by the love Pimienta (Miguel Benavides) has for Cecilia, leading to a tragic scene in the cathedral of La Habana. In the novel, Cecilia was a young mulatto woman who was decided to marry a Spaniard. Unluckily for her, she chose Leonardo Gamboa, who turned out to be her brother. Solás, Rodríguez, Ramos, and Torrado changed all this, turning Cecilia into a grown-up woman who is in the verge of becoming a spinster, and moved the incestuous relationship from the lovers to Leonardo and his mother. They gave great relevance to the Cuban movement of independence from Spain (turning it into an icon in the figure of young and beautiful César Évora, who had turned 20 years old at that time, and latter became a star of soap operas in México); and gave full reign to exaggerated emotions (and acting, mostly in the case of Raquel Revuelta, who was the top figure of the Cuban stage for various decades, and --as somebody mentioned--, in the make-up department indeed! Imanol Arias as the rich momma's boy, looks as a effeminate weakling besides Cecilia, he is a ghastly figure, almost a vampire, roaming the dark streets of La Habana, after a little girl). And let us not forget the music: Leo Brouwer, the composer, underlined this bigger than life melodrama. I remember watching first the international version, a reduced edition for exportation, and feeling when the projection ended that I wanted to see more, the whole thing. Then I watched the copy shown in Cannes (where it was a strong contender for the Palme d'Or), and finally the version edited for television in five chapters, which is, I believe, the best way to appreciate this great work by Solás, that , no wonder, was his favorite motion picture. Every peso invested in the production can be seen, there was nothing wasted, and people have the chance to see some of Cuba's biggest artists on the screen —as singer Omara Portuondo, of "Buena Vista Social Club" fame, playing the owner of a bordello for the Spanish aristocracy in La Habana. Watch it if you have time, and if you are not in a rush to watch an action "movie".


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