Review by: Graeme Kay | Rating:
SHOT in three days and edited down from 30 hours of film to one
and a half hours, this is Oliver Stone's documentary of the time
he spent with Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader.
One of the film's 'selling' points is that Castro did not cut
anything from what was filmed, even though he was given the opportunity
to do just that.
Can we imagine Tony Blair being so restrained; Er, possibly not.
Anyway, what we get is the great revolutionary, that's Castro
not Blair, talking candidly about his life and times since he
and his band of Fidelistas overthrew the corrupt Battista regime
What we learn, trivia-wise, is that Fidel wears Nike trainers
and he quite liked the film Titanic.
On a more serious note, we discover that Cuba has one of the
best health systems in the world, and that since Fidel came to
power, the graduate population of Cuba has risen from 30,000 to
Not bad for a regime that has been subject to a trade embargo
from the USA almost from day one.
Inevitably, Che Guevara, Fidel's right hand man in the revolution,
is referred to on several occasions, as is Cuba's military involvement
in Angola and Vietnam and the Russian missile crisis that brought
the world to the brink of nuclear war.
We also get to hear Fidel's theory about the assassination of
John F Kennedy, and his views on God.
Interspersed with the talking-head shots is archive film of Fidel
and his band of revolutionaries pre and post-overthrow and, contemporary
footage of the great leader meeting his people, who, it has to
be said, seem to have a genuine affection for him.
Which is all very well and good, as Castro is open and honest
and displays a good sense of humour, while the history of his
regime is never less than interesting.
But what rankles is Stone's motivation for making this film.
One can't help feeling that in choosing to interview Castro, without
any real, in-depth contribution from the Cuban public or examination
of the country's political and economic infrastructure, he is,
in fact, simply showing off: you want access to Castro? I can
get you access. Oh, yeah, he's a good friend of mine.
In short, it smacks of self-indulgence.
Worth seeing, but not really a night-out-at-the-cinema sort of
deal. Wait for the video.