Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sergio Corrieri, José Gallardo, Raúl García, Luz María Collazo, Jean Bouisse, Celia Rodriguez, Luisa María Jiménez, Salvador Wood
Written by: Enrique Pineda Barnet, Yevgeni Yevtushenko
Directed by: Mikhail Kalatozov
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Spanish, Russian, English with English subtitles
Running Time: 140
Date: 08/01/1964

I Am Cuba (1964)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Havana Split

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This loony, quasi-masterpiece is one of the great jagged edges of film history. A blatant work of agitprop, it plays like a great, twisted vacation package video of Cuba -- full of trials and tribulations, heartbreak and death, but presented with such consistently dazzling cinematography and editing that it's intoxicating. It's all the more insane for being financed and made by Russian filmmakers! (The Russians were interested in promoting socialism along with the brand-new ruler Fidel Castro.) It runs a ludicrous 140 minutes, but anyone interested in making or reviewing films should see it. I guarantee that even the most jaded and experienced viewers will be asking themselves just how certain shots were accomplished. The film was more or less ignored until the mid-1990s, when people like Martin Scorsese became interested in it and "presented" a U.S. release.

DVD Details: Milestone has re-released the DVD in a glorious, cigar-box set including three discs. Disc One includes the movie, complete with both Russian and Spanish language tracks and a Scorsese introduction. Disc Two contains The Siberian Mammoth (2005), a feature-length documentary on the making of I Am Cuba, and an interview with screenwriter Yevgeni Yevtushenko. Disc Three contains a feature-length documentary about director Mikhail Kalatozov. The set also includes a 16-page booklet.

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