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Documentary about Fidel Castro, covering 40 years of Cuban Revolution. Rare Fidel Castro footage: he appears swimming with a bodyguard, visiting his childhood home and school, playing with his friend Nelson Mandela, meeting kid Elián Gonzalez, and celebrating his birthday with the Buena Vista Social Club group. Written by
Estela Bravo's documentary, Fidel, isn't exactly a balanced telling of the Cuban leader's Cuban policies, but it is a wonderfully balanced look at Castro's impact on the world, as well as the factors leading up to the US blockade.
The US does not come out looking good, for sure, as it shouldn't, given our adventures in Latin America in the last century. Although this film is not about US foreign policy, it is a nice door-opening for those who may want to look further into United Fruit, Allende, Batista, etc. I hope, at this point in time, that US and/or Latin American history courses teach the actual history of the 20th century (as opposed to when I went to school in the 1970s), so this aspect of the film will not a surprise to a younger audience. However, even if our educational system is still lagging in this area, it isn't too hard to find rigorous history books on Amazon.com
Two important pieces of history that I came away with, having either never known or forgotten, were: 1) Castro didn't affiliate with the USSR until after the blockade 2) The blockade was the result of 'tit-for-tat' policies that escalated on both sides.
Most importantly, I think this movie shows how the rest of the world - including Western Europe and Canada - views Castro, Cuba and the revolution. Every last friend, associate or mere acquaintance from South of the Rio that I know - all of whom are middle or upper class in their homelands - thinks well of Castro and highly of Cuba, so I was not surprised to see the adoring crowds all over Latin America. I was unaware, however, of Cuba's influence on the fall of apartheid.
Because I learned a few things I didn't realize I didn't know, and because of the way several historical events (outside of Cuba) were depicted accurately (and well), and because, as Sydney Pollack said, 'the man has become so much more than a man that it is hard to know who he is, what he's actually done, or what his imprint on history is/will be', I highly recommend this movie. I intend to learn more about Cuba through trusted sources (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc), but I feel l have a very good start on my understanding, already, thanks to Ms. Bravo.
Oh --- and it was just great film-making, too!
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