This film is beautiful. And not just any kind of beautiful. I knew it was familiar. It reminded me of the Soviet film The Cranes Are Flying. Sure enough it turns out that helming this film were director Mikhail Kalatozov and cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky. The same two who made The Cranes Are Flying. No wonder the crane shots are so amazing. Moving from the top of a resort building to top of another part of the building below; moving through people sipping drinks till it ultimately ends in a swimming pool. All in one unbroken shot.
The hand-held camera work is just as amazing. A woman is being thrown around on a dance floor with bamboo hanging from the ceiling. She is thrown from person to person and the camera follows the quick movements, running along with her.
The film is more than just the camerawork, it’s a terrific piece of propaganda. The film is composed as a series of vignettes, each one showcasing average Cubans who ultimately get slighted by the capitalists. The films takes place in the years leading up to Castro’s revolution and each vignette moves us closer to that revolution. We are finally following Castro’s guerrillas in the mountains as the fight for freedom from Batista.
This is one of the best films I have seen recently. I highly recommend it.