Film The Art of History
posted by November 15 at 11:54 AMon
I watched I Am Cuba again last night, and what I loved about it when I wrote this review two or so years ago (the national feeling, cinema as a unified expression, the lack of individuals, the long march of history) is what I love about it now. It is the greatest movie ever made.
I Am Cuba is an epic that contains neither hard individuals nor personal experiences, but only subjects of a world-historical movement, a mass advancement, a triumphant (and bloody) march from a state of raw economic exploitation by multinational corporations and the American tourist industry to a new state of socialized production, education, transportation, and health.
The subjects in the movie are wired to the spirit of the times. The melancholy prostitute, the severe soul singer, the serious student, the mountain peasant, the sugarcane farmer, his beautiful children, even his horse—from within each the whole idea of freedom is emerging.
And the greatness of the revolution is matched by the greatness of the film’s form. Cinema rarely gets as pure as I Am Cuba. Shot by Sergei Urusevsky and Alexander Calzatti, the camera’s essential, superhuman achievement is the near total unification of the internal condition of the film’s subjects with their surroundings. The camera comes close to their bodies and then suddenly pans up to view the rich landscape, the body of their country. The camera is fluid and moves almost as though it has no operator. At one point, it flies out of a window and glides above the funeral procession of a young martyr—the will of the people defies gravity in the same way that it defies the global market system.
The camera is the mind of the people. This is why the movie has very little dialogue. The subjects of history do not have to say very much: We see who they are, what they are thinking, what they desire. We watch them labor, suffer, and struggle with the forces of capital. I Am Cuba also gets to the heart of work, the beauty of cutting sugarcane, the glory of sweat. I absolutely love this movie.