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After directing two documentaries on Fidel Castro in 2002 ("Comandante") and 2003 ("Looking for Fidel"), filmmaker Oliver Stone returned to interview Castro in 2009 for the first in-depth ... See full summary »
Comandante is a political documentary film by American director Oliver Stone. In the film, Stone interviews Cuban leader Fidel Castro on a diverse range of topics. Stone and his film crew visited Castro in Cuba for three days in 2002, and the film was released in 2003, having its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival early that year.
The film was partly produced by HBO and was planned for broadcast. Shortly before airtime, after Cuba executed three hijackers of a ferry to the United States and imprisoned more than 70 political dissidents, HBO pulled the program. See more »
This film is a fantastic, hypnotic encounter with the legendary Marxist, world agitator and bete noire to America, Fidel Castro. It features left-wing warrior Oliver Stone's trademark flash cutting and controversial storytelling, alongside a simply stunning musical score from Alberto Iglesias. Prepare for the Buena Vista Social Club (2001) on revolutionary acid.
The beginning of Commandante yet another Oliver Stone masterpiece is similar to the beginning of his epic JFK (1991): lots of archive footage of Castro and Cuba, only this time intercut with masses of frenzied crowds drunk on revolutionary fervour, all shouting 'Fidel, Fidel', hailing their great man who is still there in this film, forty years later. Incredible.
There is both 1960s and modern footage of Havana featuring giant murals of 'Che' Guevara, Fidel ('VIVA FIDEL CASTRO') and a total absence of any corporate, Western advertising whatsoever. There is a lot of poverty, but also a series of impromptu meetings between Castro (and Stone) and various Cubans in the streets. Propaganda or planned? The movie harks back to the original revolution in 1959 and Castro's initial pro-Western peoples revolution, hailing (in English) 'representative democracy' and 'social justice'. Of course, the American corporations and political elite could never countenance any notion of true democracy just ninety miles from their corrupt lands and so the story unfolds of how various presidents tried to invade the island and destroy their path.
Fidel himself at 80 is surprisingly fit and optimistic, always in his olive green military fatigues. He appears to be a genuine messiah, despite the paradox of religion and atheistic communism in this island paradise. He wears his customary beard, is polite and genuinely sincere. Castro and Oliver Stone in a remarkably frank and candid series of interviews go on to discuss everything from politics, film, women and nationalism. Castro admires Sophia Loren, Charlie Chaplin, Khruschev, Gorbachev, Depardieu and a host of others. He has watched Titanic and Gladiator but hates Nixon who he considers the originator of the American hatred of his island yet feels sorry for Kennedy for being assassinated.
Could George W Bush even consider for one second walking the streets of his capital city? No, he would be strung up as a corrupt war criminal and stooge to all of the corporate giants that have been banished from Cuba (Texaco, Gulfoil, McDonalds, etc.).
In the original 1960s footage Castro is hailed by crowds of literally one million people. He is a strange combo of Dr Caligari, Karl Marx and the Pope.
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