Memories of Underdevelopment (1968) Poster

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9/10
Complex and probing
Howard Schumann1 August 2005
If you are inclined to think that Third World Cinema is simplistic and one-dimensional, I invite you see Tomas Gutiérrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment, selected by the New York Times in 1974 as one of the year's ten best movies. Based on the novel Inconsolable Memories by Edmundo Desnoës, a Cuban writer who lived in the United States, Memories is a complex and probing film about the dilemma faced by intellectuals in Cuba following the revolution. Although directed by a Cuban who supported the revolution and remained in Cuba until his death, the film has a European sensibility, interlacing fiction and documentary footage and using poetic images, literary narration, flashbacks, and newsreel footage reminiscent of Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour.

Sergio (Sergio Corrieri) is a frustrated writer who chooses to remain in Cuba rather than follow his family to Miami just "to see how it all turns out". Though he has strong feelings for his people, he is indifferent towards politics an observer rather than a participant. Alea shows the artist as anti-hero, a man who undergoes an identity crisis, is sapped of all his vitality, feels old in his thirties, and drifts along without meaning and purpose. Unable to write the novel he wants, Sergio survives on rental income from apartments and lives in middle class luxury while around him housing is deteriorating and there are serious gas and oil shortages. He spends his days smoking in bed, looking out of a telescope through his bedroom window, taking walks, watching television, and meeting young women. He makes no pretense of his being an outsider but complains that "everything happens to me too early or too late". Hanna, the woman he says he truly loved urged him to move to New York with her and become a writer but he chose to remain in Cuba to go into the furniture business.

When Sergio makes the acquaintance of Elena (Daisy Granados), a sixteen- year-old girl who wants to be an actress, his life takes on new meaning but it is temporary and the affair ends badly. Persuading her that he knows important people in the theatrical world, he brings her to his apartment and they begin a relationship in which he tries to model her to fit his ideal of the bourgeois Cuban woman. He takes her to modern art galleries and the home of writer Ernest Hemingway to expose her to culture but it doesn't work and he complains when she doesn't fit into his mold. "She doesn't relate to things," he tells himself. "It's one of the signs of underdevelopment." Elena, like other Cuban women", he says, has an "inability to relate to things, to accumulate experience, to develop", but the stricture can just as easily refer to himself and he pays the price of this experience when the girl's parents bring a lawsuit against him for rape. Although he escapes the fate of a criminal, little by little the outside world, the world of guns, slogans, and rallies closes in on him and he feels trapped.

There are several documentary sequences interspersed throughout the film that have no apparent connection to the narrative but convey the sense that no one living in revolutionary Cuba is able to escape the presence of history. The opening sequence shows a public dance in which all the participants are black with the exception of Sergio who is white. In this sequence continued later in the film, an unnamed political leader is assassinated. In other footage, we see excerpts from the trial of counterrevolutionaries captured at Playa Giron, the site of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, and a third in which we hear the voices of Castro and Kennedy during the Cuban Missile crisis.

Though Alea apparently wants us to see the fate that befalls someone who does not directly endorse revolutionary activities, he makes his character so appealing and sympathetic that, to me, the film had mixed messages. I was torn between my support of the aims of the revolution and empathizing with Sergio's disdain for the emptiness of both the Cuban bourgeois and the revolutionary leadership. An event that took place only three years after Memories of Underdevlopment was released, however, underscored the point that Sergio was making. At that time, Castro, at the First National Congress on Education and Culture, said that artists and writers must reject "all manifestations of a decadent culture, the fruit of societies that are rent by contradictions". Not surprisingly, although due to receive a special prize for the film from the U.S. National Society of Film Critics in 1973, Gutiérrez Alea was denied a visa to attend the ceremony.
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9/10
A classic from a very troubled year
kinaidos11 February 2007
Sergio, a bourgeois intellectual living off of (seemingly tenuous) rental income as a property holder, decides to stay in Cuba. The conflict set up between his intellectual convictions and the reality of Cuban life in the wake of the revolution makes up the central problem of the film. The film presents a year in the life of the protagonist, a year culminating in the missile crises of 1962. What makes the film is the candid nature of it's reflections on the role of the intellectual in political life - certainly THE hot topic during the summer of 1968. The film is also a stylistic tour de force, welding together neorealistic drama, newsreel footage, montages of life in contemporary Havana as seen from Sergio's flat (through a telescope), and some filmed Shavian-styled debates amid the action. Far from being a typical propaganda piece, the films treatment of the future of the revolution was very open ended, candid, and thoughtful. It's a film that emerges from the debates about the future and which stages it's own participation in that debate. The film features two significant cameos: Edmundo Desnoes - the author of the novel on which the film is based, and Gutierez Alea himself. Both cameos occur in diegetic reflections about art: a debate about literature in the case of Desnoes, and a talk with a young director in the case of Alea. This film is almost impossible to find in the US thanks to the Cuban expatriate zealot nonsense. It's available in Mexico though - on a fairly well mastered DVD. It's worth seeking out. It's one of the best Cuban films ever and one of the greatest films of the new wave era.
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One of the greatest films ever made
Aw-komon16 June 2000
This isn't just a film of historical value; far from it. It is one of the greatest films ever made by anyone. The balance of elements that went into this venture came out magnificently poetic and real. The semi-documentary style is deeply influenced by 'Hiroshima Mon Amor' and other New Wave classics, but the sensibility is Alea's own and distinctly 'Latin American Intellectual.' There are very few films that can make me cry, this is one of them. Not because of the story, but simply because of the way it is made, the beautifully subtle way it is expressed. The leading character's central tragedy of not being able to reconcile his own deep feeling for his people with his intellectual standards because of their 'underdevelopment' and subsequent alienated existence or more precisely their inability to transcend their alienation to reach a more fulfilled state is one of the most touching and relevant themes I've ever seen in a film. It is more relevant more today, 30 years later than it was then, everywhere, not just in the island of Cuba with its mere 7 million inhabitants. A great performance by Sergio Corrieri (I Am Cuba) provides the required erotic undertone and comedic rhythms to convey the true feel of an intellectual 'playboy' existence in early '60s Cuba. The effect of this film is visceral and must be seen to be appreciated, words can hardly describe it. Suffice it to say that it uses all the resources of cinema and then some, but subtly and with maximum poetic control, and is a thousand times more valuable than most of the pretentious art films of today. If only one tenth of one percent of the audience that will see a piece of garbage like 'Mission Impossible 2' (which I sat and puked through I regret to say, because of all the hype about the 'action sequences' of John Woo, to kill a couple of hours which I'll never again be able to recover) this summer could somehow miraculously be forced to watch and understand this film and see its parallels within their own society of computerized complacent banality, the intellectual level of this country would shoot up overnight.
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10/10
Memoiras del subdesarrollo is a stunning look into post Revolutionary Cuba.
radar-1725 November 1999
Memorias del subdesarrolo (memories of the underdeveloped) is a look into the life of a bourgeois young writer who decides to stay in his native Cuba following the Cuban revolution, and enters himself into a life of detachment, seclusion, and avoidance. Sergio (the writer) is juxtaposed with Elna (a young woman following the trends that are dictated to her) to show a clash in idealism, values, and moral that leads to dramatic court scene that ultimately puts in question the current state of Cuba opposed to the past. Alea's use of Sergio, Elena, Pablo (a petty bourgeois that flees to Miami), and the court shows Alea's insight into the great social change that followed the revolution. Through the course of the film you see the change in society that spurns it's, once, culturally elite to become detached from there surroundings and society, leaving only two options: flight, and seclusion. This film is a great look into a society, and a man trying to escape from it. .
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10/10
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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Not underdeveloped as a Film!
FANatic-1019 October 2006
There is much that is wonderful about this film, the first Cuban film to be released in the U.S. after the Revolution. I found the ending rather abrupt and unsatisfying and some of the political discussions were long-winded (the fast disappearing subtitles on the video didn't help), but overall "Memories" was vibrant and surprising. The film is made with a lot of the spirit of the French New Wave, lots of flashy film techniques. It felt surprisingly open and honest to me, to have come out of Cuba at the time it did. It depicts an intellectual who has opted to remain in Cuba despite his well-off family and his wife having taken off for the U.S. He stays, wanting to see "how everything turns out". Afflicted with a rather massive case of both ennui and horniness, the film captures his musings on the state of Cuban society, at times satirical and sensual, but always cut through with a pervading sense of melancholy. It makes me want to hunt down more works by its late director, Tomas Gutierrez Alea.
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10/10
An excellent, telling perspective of post-revolutionary Cuba
springsandra11 December 1998
In this excellent perspective of post-revolutionary Cuba, we see how Sergio has decided to ignore the changes in the world around him even after his parents and wife leave for Miami. Instead he stays in his home and lives off past rent money while focusing on women who attract him and the way the world seems not to have actually changed as he looks out his window with a small telescope. "All of a sudden," he claims,"it looks like a set, a city of card board." The movie is interesting and telling of this world and one man's desire to avoid it. Sergio visits the home of Hemmingway in Cuba and comments on his reasons for living there. The movie ends with an outside view of Cuba by President Kennedy's warnings to the new communist state.

The movie is quick-paced and packed with information, as well as interesting and enjoyable.
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6/10
Dated but Important
Claudio Carvalho25 January 2015
In 1961, in Cuba, the apolitical aspiring and frustrated writer Sergio Carmona Mendoyo (Sergio Corrieri) stays in Cuba after the Revolution. He sees his wife Carla and his family and friends traveling to the United States but he decides to stay in his country. Sergio receives rental from his apartments and lives alone in a comfortable apartment. He witnesses the reduction of supplies, such as gas and oil for the cars, while recalls parts of his life.

He recalls when he was a teenager and went to a brothel with his friend Pablo (Omar Valdés). He remembers his relationship with Hanna that was the woman that he really loved but let her go to New York without marrying her to run the furniture shop that his father had given to him. He also like to listen to the tape he has recorded with his wife Carla that was molded by him to fit his concept of perfect woman in his society. When Sergio meets the sixteen year-old aspirant actress Elena (Daisy Granados), he has a love affair with her but he concludes that she is not suitable to live with him since she does not grow or develop intellectually.

"Memorias del subdesarrollo", a.k.a. "Memories of Underdevelopment", is a dated but important movie that shows the life of a man without political idealism or position witnessing the changes in his country after a socialist revolution. The screenplay entwines footages of the historical moment as a landscape of the world that the lead character is living in complete alienation. Maybe this is the greatest importance of this movie made in a period when people had political idealism. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Memórias do Subdesenvolvimento" ("Memories of the Underdevelopment")
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5/10
Memories of Underdevelopment
Jackson Booth-Millard10 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This was a film that was listed in the book of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and I will first confess that I dozed off in quite a lot of this Cuban film, but to be honest, I was fine as I didn't know what was going on at all. Basically, from what I gathered, Sergio Carmona Mendoyo (Sergio Corrieri) is a middle class but wealthy aspiring writer who has had his wife and friends flee from Cuba, but he is staying put, and as time goes by he sees the country change through the Revolution and the missile crisis. He sees the effects of living in a country full of underdevelopment, he has relationships with various women, including girlfriends Elena (Daisy Granados) and Hanna, and he has to stand alienation from social changes. Also starring Eslinda Núñez as Noemi, Omar Valdés as Pablo and René De La Cruz as Elena's brother. I think the reason I probably didn't understand the point of view story was because the editing was made to resemble a person's conceptual memories, fragmented and highly subjective. I will say that if that is the case with the editing, it certainly worked to this level, I can't personally agree with the four stars out of five that the critics give it, this is due to my confusion as to what was happening, and because I do not follow all political things and world events, unless of course I have heard of them, but anyway, from what I did pay attention to it was an okay political drama. Worth watching, in my opinion!
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Emotional Existentialism
futures-126 December 2005
"Memories of Underdevelopment" (Cuban, 1968): Made in 1968, set and shot (b/w) in 1961-62 Cuba, using a frighteningly smooth blend of documentary footage, and flash-backs, with new sets, locations, and actors in present-time, we watch a man at an airport say goodbye to most everyone he's ever known. THEY are escaping the new Castro Cuba, to start over in Miami, USA. HE has decided to remain (although we're never given much of an explanation why), and use (what must be) his independent wealth. Now living in the big city with only strangers, he wanders about looking for relationships. Instant closeness. Replacements. Although carrying the demeanor of a suave, patient, aging bachelor, he has the desperation of a teenage boy, driven by appearances and hormones. As archival footage is used to expand the vision of Castro's Cuba, it is clear the lonely man is the one making the bigger mistake. I thought of this "story" as Emotionally Existential.
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5/10
I May Need to Rewatch
Rob Starzec10 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I don't know whether it was the movie or just me lacking energy, but I was honestly dozing off during some parts of this film, so I do not retain all the information within the film. What I do remember is that this film didn't really know whether it was trying to be more of a narrative film or more of a documentary, making it somewhat of a mess.

What I do retain is the story following Sergio and his lust for women. His story starts an unhappy one, having lost family in the Bay of Pigs incident. Ever since, he is trying to find meaning in his life, or excitement - this excitement he strives for leads him down a path of pedophilia (though I'm not sure how well this is portrayed with an actress who looks 25 and is supposed to play 17). He meets this girl, Elena, on the street one day and seduces her after being persistent. Most of the story then revolves around a scene where it is unclear whether Sergio rapes her or not. The girl takes his advances as a joke while Sergio is very serious, and afterwards we hear Sergio telling her to "stop crying."

Ultimately Sergio is off the hook (even though she was a 17-year-old girl) since it cannot be proved that she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or that she did not consent. This is a little unsettling, and overall this movie does not teach us much about Cuba with the documentary aspect of the film. We are left with a very ambiguous reflection on human nature.
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10/10
An early Cuban Masterpiece like a Missile out of the Past
alexdeleonfilm22 May 2016
Memories of Underdevelopment, 1968.    Director, Tomas Gutierrez Alea: restored B/w print from Cineteca di Bologna with introduction by Martin Scorcese on the tricky restoration process. Stars Sergio Corrieri and Daisy Granados as the good looking lovers of the tale. Landmark Cuban film set in Havana between 1961 when many Cubans fled the country after the Fidel Castro led communist takeover and the Missile Crisis of late 1962 --in between the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.  Against this backdrop of pivotal events the film follows the adventures and misadventures of a handsome divorced man of 38, Sergio, who chose not to leave because he owned property and was not politically involved in the revolution. His seduction of and affair with an attractive seventeen year old girl, Elena, becomes the focal point of the narrative leading up to a trial when he drops her and is accused of rape and breach of promise by her family but acquitted by the court.   All throughout the tale he makes wry observations on the state of underdevelopment of the newly communized island country and the lack of culture of his youthful girlfriend.  One long section covers a visit to Hemingway's Cuban home with satiric comments on his obsession with big game hunting. The narrator remarks that the macho American author only killed animals to keep from killing himself -- which eventually he did.  During the missile crisis we hear a lengthy clip of president Kennedy's voice describing in detail the threat to the hemisphere posed by Russian nuclear weaponry on the island.and the need to do whatever is necessary to squelch this threat. Along the way we are treated to a remarkable clip of the young bearded Fidel Castro in one of his fiery speeches enjoining the Cuban people not to be intimidated by the American colossus to the north as we see Russian tankers being unloaded in Habana. This first big film from Communist Cuba was both a savvy critique of the new hammer and sickle order and a cunning portrait of Cuban society at this crucial historical juncture. Aside from its historical importance and near documentary feel Alea's picture works extremely well simply as a thorny love story and the drama of an attractive middle aged man caught up in political events above and beyond his control. Memories of Underdevelopment opened the door and set the tone for the development of a small but feisty and colorful Cuban film industry, one of the best in Latin America, which continues to turn out interesting movies right up to the present day.
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7/10
fascinating but not for the easily tiresome
MisterWhiplash25 April 2006
I saw this film in a film class, where we were looking at the mix of elements of documentary footage as well as fictional footage (including the use of archives, stills, voice-over), in relation to Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour. All I can say is that I was interested in the film, and at times my interest really peaked up with the style, but it's not for everyone, that's for sure. The director is very talented with mixing the elements of making narrative out of seemingly non-narrative. Here and there I was even reminded of Bertolucci's Before the Revolution. But here and there I wondered 'would this be just better as a straight documentary on the post Cuban revolutionary world?' The questions raised by its main character Sergio are intelligent, but there are so many of them thrown at a viewer, or just in observations. And you may need to be completely up on your Cuban history circa late 50's-early 60's to catch some of the stuff inside.

The storyline itself is actually just as involving, if not more so, than the documentary side to the film, as Sergio's viewpoint of the Cuban's (misguided) revolutionary stances and problems with the bourgeoisie is a parallel to his relationships with women. The story with the young girl he seduces, and gets in trouble with, are some of my favorite scenes from the lot (and when I most woke up to watch). It's a little more tedious at times than 'Hiroshima' was as a hybrid-style film, and even with its gritty style that even in fictional form is very documentary-like, it didn't blow me away as much as it has for others who have commented here. However, I would say if you're into the history and hows and whys of the Cuban revolution and Castro and the Bay of Pigs, AND want a character to guide you through it all, this is quite the view.
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10/10
should I stay or should I go
RanchoTuVu3 May 2007
A Cuban intellectual who is from the bourgeois class, though educated and perceptive enough not to fall hook line and sinker for whatever bourgeois mentality may prevail, watches as nearly everyone who can, abandons Cuba in the wake of Castro's triumphant overthrow of Batista. Why he doesn't join them is one of the film's burning questions. Utilizing newsreel footage, the film superimposes the main character into or onto the setting of revolutionary Cuba in a very successful way, capturing the drama of those times and his own dilemmas. That the Revolution itself was started by and led by the disaffected sons and daughters of the upper class, the question to stay and try to transform the country, also meant getting on their wagon, while leaving had its own implications. Caught in the middle, and abandoned by his wife, who left for Miami, he becomes infatuated with his housekeeper, a Baptist convert, giving the film an interesting erotic spirituality, in one beautiful scene imagining her baptism, and later picking up on a young woman and having a relationship that nearly lands him in jail, discovering underdevelopment and social conservatism in relation to his own loose morality. In the end, he's tolerated by the Revolution, probably much to the dislike of the anti-Castro crowd.
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7/10
Worth seeing for historical interest
William J. Fickling4 June 2000
Although this isn't a particularly good film, it provides a fascinating look into life in Cuba during the first few years after Castro's revolution. Although released in 1968, it is set in 1961-1962. While it was no doubt censored by the Cuban government, and you would have no idea from watching this film that what is being depicted is a police state, the film is in many ways surprisingly honest about several aspects of post-revolutionary life, i.e., the mass exodus from the country in 1961, the shortages, etc. So it's worth a look if you can catch it.
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An Art Film That Gets Too Artsy
lavatch24 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Tomas Guiterrez Alea has received great acclaim from film historians for his neorealist film "Memories of Underdevelopment" (1968). But does the film really merit the praise? In a nonlinear narrative, we follow the study of a loner named Sergio, residing in Havana after the fateful Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. But we never know the complete background of Sergio, who surely does not represent the Cuban people of 1961. Rather, he is an effete intellectual who has never gotten his hands dirty. He is a conoisseur of European art and apparently a committed capitalist in the newly revamped socialist regime of Castro.

Is Sergio even Cuban? Or is he a Castillian Spaniard? The film only sets Sergio apart from a friend who is a wounded Bay of Pigs veteran or the sophisticated women who have left Sergio and Cuba behind, as they flee to America.

The central relationship developed in the film is that of Sergio and a young woman named Elena. They meet in public. Sergio shamelessly flirts and invites Elena to his apartment. They have a brief affair, and we never learn why they drift apart. Eventually, Sergio stands trial for rape in a case brought by the outraged family members of Elena.

Undoubtedly, the filmmaker Alea wants us to see how the young, virgin Cuba has been raped by the old European order. But if that is the message, then why is Sergio acquitted of the crime? "Memories of Underdevelopment" is a film rife with ambiguities. There is no clear message discernible in the film, only a dazzling array of images of history, revolution, and violence. One man's character stands out against this backdrop with passivity and compliance to whatever way the wind is blowing.
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8/10
A Challenging Film
bean-d11 March 2011
"Memorias del Subdesarrollo" (1968) is an extremely interesting Cuban film about an aspiring bourgeois writer named Sergio. His wife leaves him for a more secure life in the States, as do many of his friends and neighbors. But Sergio remains in Cuba, all the while detesting his "underdeveloped" countrymen. His interior monologue throughout the film details the numerous ways in which the people who surround him, and his new girlfriend, are all underdeveloped mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, but we soon realize that it is the smooth-talking Sergio who is guilty of underdevelopment. Perhaps his inability to leave the mediocrity of Cuba is rooted in his need to have others to look down upon. Intermixed with his observations is a visit he takes to Hemingway's retreat in which he contemplates the novelist's colonialism--yet we can't but wonder if his observations are tainted by his underdevelopment. Further, the Cuban missile crisis happens at this time, and Sergio must also deal with a rape charge. A challenging film.
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8/10
Pyschologicaly and visually complex, if emotionally cool
runamokprods14 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A complex film both politically and psychologically. A bourgeois man decides to stay in post- revolutionary Cuba, even when his wife and family leave. He's detached and alienated from the revolution around him, from women, but also from his shallow, old materialistic existence.

The film uses lots of brave, experimental and sophisticated visual techniques (sudden cuts to still photos, super long lens shots, hand-held shots, intercutting news footage with staged), but almost all of it works towards making a fascinating whole. My only problem is that -- for me - - the experience is almost totally an intellectual one. I had very little emotional response during most of the film, although the last section, with the Cuban Missile Crisis looming has some real power.

Note that most critics I respect see this as a flat out masterpiece, so I could have missed something, and would be willing to give it a second look.
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