I Am Cuba. Mikhail Kalatozov. 1964. ⚅
This is a movie I was completely unaware of, and I don’t seem to be the only one:
It really is a neglected classic.
It’s so weird! Movies this weird don’t usually end up on lists like these. Is it recently rediscovered or something?
I’ve never seen cinematography remotely like this. They’re using a fish-eye lens on a bunch of the shots, and they’re sticking the camera right into the faces of people, so people look distorted and nightmarish. (Especially the Americans, of course.) The camera never stops moving. And this is before the invention of the steadicam so they have to have had the steadiest camera operator in existence. And these are long, long shots.
Ah. Mike Leigh and Gaspar Noé voted for this movie. Makes sense.
It’s riveting. The sheer audacity of some of these shots is breathtaking. Some of them seem impossible to have happened, but they made them happen. Cars, carts, elevators, zip lines… the camera keeps moving against impossible odds.
The camera is moving, and so is the movie.
One technical thing I’m wondering about is why all the greenery comes off as iridescent white in this movie. Some special kind of filter? Anybody know?
Until the USSR collapsed in the early 1990s, I Am Cuba was virtually unknown. In 1992, a print of the film was screened at the Telluride Film Festival. The San Francisco International Film Festival screened the film in 1993. Shortly after the festival, three film professionals who had screened I Am Cuba at the San Francisco screening contacted friends at Milestone Films, a small New York film distributor specializing in the release of once-lost and neglected older films. Milestone screened a slightly blurry, unsubtitled VHS tape of the film and then went about acquiring the distribution rights from Mosfilm in Russia. In 1994, a friend invited Martin Scorsese to a private screening. Scorsese was amazed by the film, and when Milestone approached him to lend his name to the company’s release of the film, he was happy and enthusiastic to do so.
And the greens being white:
The film is shot in black and white, sometimes using infrared film obtained from the Soviet military to exaggerate contrast (making trees and sugar cane almost white, and skies very dark but still obviously sunny).
The movie is amazeballs.
And there’s a documentary here. Here’s a pic of the cinematographer and an actor:
Today’s drink-made-from-leftover-booze is the escalator.
The juicer I used to use broke down, so I got a Kenwood attachment juicer… think… that I’m using for the first time today. I haven’t counted, but there’s like ten pieces to it? It’s absurd. But nine of them go into the dishwasher, so that’s OK. It didn’t make a lot of juice from three apples, though, so I am disappoint. But perhaps the apples weren’t juicy.
Anyway, it’s deee-lish.
This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.