Soy Cuba ( I Am Cuba)

"I used to think the most terrifying thing in life was death. Now I know the most terrifying thing in life is life." Pedro

"I used to think the most terrifying thing in life was death. Now I know most terrifying thing in life is life." Pedro

☆ Masterpiece

Soy Cuba - I Am Cuba (1964) is a jaw dropping visual feast that shows the power of cinema.

Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov and lensed by Sergei Urusevsky.

Starring Sergio Corrieri, Salvador Wood and Jose Gallardo among many others.

The film was a Soviet-Cuban co-production between the two countries film propaganda outfits. They consisted of  Russia's Mosfilm and Cuba's ICAIC in 1964. Tommy Luddy of Pacific Film Archives in 1990 brought it to the attention of directors Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Tommy showed Martin and Francis the long forgotten Soy Cuba and they brought in Milestone in the USA to distribute the film on DVD.

Mikhail and Sergei used a handheld camera to create characters emotional state by moving the camera constantly. They termed this camera movement "The Emotional Camera".

The scene below is one of many visually stunning scenes that not only capture the beauty of Cuba, but it's people and culture. Mikhail and Sergei used a lens with a spinning glass disc from a periscope that they took off a submarine. The retrofitted spinning glass disc on the lens of the handheld camera kept water drops from forming as they dove in and out of the water in the pool. They used a hand held camera that was passed from one camera assistant on a crane to the next crew member on the ground as the camera goes through the long scene. Soy Cuba, is as visually stunning as Michelangelo Antonioni's, L 'Avventura (1960).

The propaganda in the film is laughable and fails today as miserably as it did when it was first shown in Russia and Cuba back in 1964.  The communist set out to make a film highlighting the decadence of the American tourists at a fancy hotel, pool and night club and the wealth of Havanas sprawling commercial, hotel and residential towers. Soy Cuba has the same opposite effect on a modern audience as it did to audiences in 1964 in Moscow and Havana. Then as now, Soy Cuba makes everyone who watches it want to be enjoying life with the free spending Americans and the gorgeous city they helped build. Watch the scene below and see if Mikhail and Sergei camera magic doesn't transport you to that gorgeous world. As an audience member with 50 years of hindsight at what Castro and his communist cronies did to Cuba I can see why the Soviets and the Cubans shelved the film after its initial showings in both countries. While watching this movie I was transported to a world that existed 50 years ago.

Trivia - The ending shots were accomplished by attaching a handheld camera to the operator's vest. The vest had hooks in the back. A line of assistants then would hook and unhook the vest to different pulleys and cables as the camera operator is lifted through buildings and roof tops.