Lewes Film Club - Memories of Underdevelopment
Few dispute that the late Tomas Gutierrez Alea was the greatest film maker to come out of Cuba, and many believe this movie to be the crowning achievement of a busy carer. Alea was a product of Fidel Castro’s ‘ICAIC’ Film Institute, and while he always claimed to be a revolutionary he never tired of pointing out the weaknesses of Castro’s regime. The Cuban leader famously declared a set of rules after setting up ICAIC: ‘within the revolution everything, against the revolution nothing.’ In this movie, which follows the life of a disillusioned bourgeois intellectual in the year between the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Missile Crisis, Alea pushed about as far against that boundary as he could go.
Alea was very influenced by the French and Italian new wave movies and he proved here that experimental-realism films could be made as well in the Third World as they were in the First. The film is full of flashback, long takes, freeze frames and documentary footage, as we witness what life is like for a man whose way of life is being threatened by the new regime. He doesn’t want to follow his friends and family out of the country, but can’t grasp the new mood within it and is disillusioned by the problems which exist as the island comes to terms with the enormous changes engendered by the revolution. This testing but rewarding movie will be followed by a 30-minute documentary about Alea’s career. DL Thanks to Ann Cross