I Am Cuba (1964)

It is not shocking that Mikhail Kalatozov was able to give a rather interesting view of the Cuban Revolution through I Am Cuba by using similar techniques as Eisenstein and his Mexican-centered film, Que Viva Mexico!. Unlike Eisenstein’s film, I Am Cuba consisted of four main segments; each of ┬áthe segments would ultimately lead to the portrayal of the Cuban Revolution.

The Cuban Revolution is by far one of the most interesting revolutions in history. It is the only country in the region that has ever underwent a socialist revolution (Eckstein 502). In an attempt to get away from an United States backed government, Fidel Castro successfully leads Cuba into a revolution and takes power in 1959 (503). In segment one of I Am Cuba, the Soviet and Cuban perspective of Americans becomes obvious. Inside a casino, American men were trying to take advantage of the Cuban women; this depiction could be used to symbolize the unwanted power and influence the United States had on Cuba. Instead marrying her true love, the main female character is forced into prostitution for foreign men.

Segment 2 of I Am Cuba also depicts a common theme of Cuban history throughout this time. In this segment, the viewer is given the unfortunate opportunity to meet Pedro, a sugar cane farmer. What is interesting about this segment is the fact that Pedro is forced to give up his sugar cane farm to United Fruit, a United States based company. During this time, sugar cane is Cuba’s largest export (504). It was clear that Pedro had no input on whether or not he would give his life long work to an American company. This scene also portrayed the Cuban and Soviet dislike of Americans.

When the film reaches segment four, a completely different representation of Cuba is presented. The revolution was beginning to take place in Havana. Instead of giving an interpretation on the American involvement in Cuba, Kalatozov shows a Cuban culture that is capable of standing up for its beliefs as well as a conveying the impression that Cuba will have a bright and successful future. According to John Chasteen’s Born in Blood & Fire, most Cubans sided with Fidel Castro’s judgements and views on politics (Chasteen 266). Unlike many Communist nation-states and supporters, Cuba’s views had nothing to do with Marxism; they simply wanted to dismantle the remains of neocolonialism (Chasteen, 264). To do this, the unequal distribution of wealth was redistributed among the people and the battle against Capitalist Imperialism began (Chasteen 265). In reality, this film can be noted as a piece of propaganda given from a Soviet’s perspective. Although this may be the case, it can also be seen as a symbol of Castro’s struggle to make a new identity for Cuba and an attempt to deny a greedy, capitalist, imperialist nation such as the United States.