5 Stars

Comandante, an Oliver Stone film, is an amazing and an incredibly intimate portrait of Fidel Castro that portrays him as a revolutionary, a dictator, and a beloved leader. Castro definitely let his guard down for this film and had a “whatever happens, happens” attitude regarding the filming. Although the rules for the shooting stated that Castro or Stone could call “cut” at any time, neither of them used this privilege throughout the filming.

It was very interesting to hear Castro’s views of the United States and his explanation of what was happening behind the scenes during the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Castro portrays Cuba as a country that was caught between two superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States. A country that has always done things its own way–Castro’s way.

Castro also expresses sadness towards the American people because of the actions of its government, citing the secret creation of the CIA. He refers to the years that the world knew of the Agency’s existence while the American people were in the dark about both the Agency and its practices in the global stage. Castro is also critical of the United States’ quick invocation of “National Security” and its use of these “sacred words” to instill its will onto the rest of the world and declare wars or conflict.

Stone does a great job of mixing documentary news footage from the past five decades with the present to make his own commentary about the dictator. He even shows Castro and his revolutionary forces executing opposing factions near a mass grave. However, it is clear that this is a biopic view of Castro’s life that focuses more on his successes than his mistakes.

Comandante is a controversial film that has been banned from the New York Tribeca Film Festival this week. Additionally, HBO has chosen not to air the film because of Cuba’s execution of ferry hijackers last month. HBO feels that current events now make the film “incomplete.” It is a shame that the Comandante wasn’t interviewed after this event, it would have been interesting to hear his thoughts on how the situation was handled.

Ultimately, you will have to watch the documentary and come up with your own ideas about Castro, the complex dictator. Cuba, a country that refuses to play by the rules of the United States and now abandoned by the fall of Mother Russia, is now in a very precarious position. It will be very interesting to see what the future brings for Castro, his country, his heirs, and his people.

1 Comment »

  1. This is outrageous. Reminds me of that line of ChevyChase in ‘Caddy Shack’, “This isnt Russia is it?…”

    We can be subjected to violence and murder nonstop, but let us hear the leader of a country in his own words, OH NO, that would never do…

    I for one and gonna tell EVEYONE i know that this film is being ‘banned’, and they will tell those they
    know…

    #1 by Jack Vogel — March 25, 2004 @ 9:56 am

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