[act-ma] 10/29 Memories of Underdevelopment at Cuban Film Screenings at MIT
July 26th Coalition
info at july26.org
Sun Oct 28 15:43:29 PDT 2007
MIT Cuban Film Series
On selected Monday from October 1st through December 10th a different
Cuban film will be screened. All screenings are free and open to the public.
October 29, 2007
Memorias del subdesarrollo (1968)
Memories of underdevelopment
MIT Building 54-100
The Tall building with the weather dome on top and a big hole in the
ground floor. It's near Ames St. and closer to Kendal Square than Mass. Ave.
*Time*: 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Tomas Gutierrez Alea: Memories of Underdevelopment
Derek Malcolm's 100 greatest movies. This week, number 54: Tomas
Gutierrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment
*Thursday February 10, 2000
The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk>*
Of all the dozens of films produced in Cuba through Castro's insistence
on the importance of the cinema, Memories of Underdevelopment is the
most sophisticated. So much so, in fact, that those opposed to the
revolution tend to call it a magnificent and unrepeatable fluke,
produced as it was by a film institute that was virtually a Marxist
ministry. Those in favour cherish it as a landmark that avoids almost
all of the radical cliches.
The director was Tomas Gutierrez Alea, a middle-class
university-educated Cuban who went along with the revolution despite
some of the doubts about emerging bureaucratisation displayed by the
equally bourgeois protagonist of his film. This is Sergio, a wealthy man
who decides to stay behind when his family leaves for the US. The time
is 1961 and the film is placed between the exodus after the disastrous
Bays of Pigs invasion and the missile crisis of the following year.
The film centres on Sergio's thoughts and experiences as he is
confronted by the new reality. He is fundamentally an alienated
outsider, scornful of his bourgeois family and friends but also of the
naivety of those who believe that everything can suddenly be changed. He
continues to live as a rent-collecting property owner and, in his
private life, chases women with an almost neurotic fervour.
He is, in fact, the sort of man with whom we can easily identify from
our experience of European films and literature. The difference is that
he is placed in exceptional circumstances and finds it difficult to
understand them. Memories is one of the best films ever made about the
sceptical individual's place in the march of history.
None of this would have been enough if Alea hadn't constructed his film
so richly, and in excitingly cinematic rather than literary terms.
Documentary and semi-documentary footage is presented as Sergio would
have seen it and the fictional story that goes along with it is very
European in its narrative style.
There are even clips from a porno film - there were many made in Cuba
under Batista - and Alea himself and the author of the original novel
comment on what is going on in Sergio's mind. As one admiring critic has
said, "the film insists that what we see is a function of how we
believe, and that how we believe is what our history has made of us".
Memories was Alea's fifth film, and probably his most famous, though at
least three others received international attention. Death of a
Bureaucrat was an ironic satire on the way revolutions stiffen into
deadly bureaucracies; The Last Supper showed how the black slaves of
Cuba in the plantation era were reconciled by religion to a life of
bondage; and Strawberry and Chocolate was a brave and popular film that,
despite Castro's disdain for homosexuality, dared to have a stolid party
cadre befriended and changed by a gay man.
Alea was clearly no ordinary product of the revolutionary cinema. He
died recently of cancer and was honoured by a government he often seemed
to criticise - and even more by ordinary Cubans, who flocked to his films.
Rest of the series
November 5, 2007
/La última cena /(1976)
November 19, 2007
/Hasta cierto punto/ (1983)
November 26, 2007
/Plaff, o demasiado miedo a la vida/ (1988)
December 3, 2007
/Alicia en el pueblo de Maravillas/ (1991)
December 10, 2007
/Suite Habana/ (2003)
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