Soy Cuba

          Soy Cuba is a visually stunning film, especially for it being filmed in the early sixties. The plot line focuses around four distinct chapters that work as a roadmap of sorts; showing Cuba’s journey from a U.S. influenced dictatorship to the communist outpost it is today. The stories are obviously subtle metaphors of the role the U.S. played in Cuba’s turbulent history. It portrays the mistreatment of the Cuban citizens and how this ultimately led to an all out revolution in the country. The film shows the increasing poverty and escalating unhappiness that dominated most parts of Cuba. These stories of individual Cuban’s, and the impact that the corrupt government has on them helps to give the viewer an idea of what these people were going through. This certainly makes it easier to understand there struggle and see just what led to the Cuban revolution in 1959.
           The first of the four chapters in the movie depicts a club scene in Cuba with a relatively exciting looking nightlife. One of the first noticeable aspects of this scene was that the nightclub was full of American men, who were portrayed as somewhat power hungry and acted as if they usually got what they wanted. This certainly had something to do with the wealth and power the Americans held in the film. They were portrayed as having enough money to buy whatever they wanted including the girls at the nightclub. One girl catches the eye of the American men and he ends up following her back to her home in the slums. He proceeds to try and buy a crucifix off the young women because he said he collected them. This scene was seemingly full of metaphors and open to interpretation. The loss of the crucifix could signify a loss of purity or even the loss of her religion and god. A good parallel is the view of the American people in the eyes of Cubans during this time period. They saw us as a rich, powerful country that ruthlessly controlled other smaller nations (Chasteen 260). This is once again played out through the film when the Cuban children begged the American for money as he left the slums.
           This film increases in intensity from each story to the next. Each story is filled with more despair and hopelessness than the one before. They go from a young girl who is used for sex by a hypocritical, pompous American tourist onto the next scene of a sugarcane farmer who loses his sugar cane and land. The work is hard and the days are long with little incentives given by the land owners to the workers. Eckstein’s article talks briefly about how this unfair relationship between the “peasants” and the land owners was turned around in the post-revolution era. This second unfortunate story follows a plantation worker who loses his land to the United Fruit company. Pointing the finger of blame strictly at capitalism, this scene shows the point of views of the citizens and gives insight as to just how a revolution could be the only solution in the peoples eyes. They saw that this form of government could legally take the mans land through the use of corporate power. This clearly would leave many asking for change even if that change would only come through action and force. In a show of spite for the government that had abandoned him and his best interests, the man burns all of his land leaving nothing but black burnt ground. This is the ultimate sign of scorn and disapproval for a government that has turned there back on the owner of the plantation.
            The plantation owner was a metaphor for all the Cuban’s who had been left behind or forgotten by the government. This disapproval for the current government in place led to two dominant philosophies. Nationalism and Marxism were the dominate philosophies held by the Cubans during the time of the Cuban revolution (Chasteen). This way of thinking meant that many Cubans believed that the turmoil they were experiencing was a direct result of American economic system. Leading them to revolt and unite under Castro. This film does a good job of accurately portraying the varying living conditions and many underdeveloped land areas that make up Cuba. It shows the country from an ideological perspective while scattering anti-american themes and metaphors throughout the film. This is done in a tactful manner that still does an adequate job of showing the seriousness of the situation while wrapped up in a symbolic gesture.