Soy Cuba was a pretty good representation of the revolution in Cuba. The thing that made it stand out the best is how it contrasted with the previous movie, Que Viva Mexico. Where Eisenstein was unable to complete his movie and had to rely on the early imagery and deeper meaning in Mexican culture, Kalatozov was able to make a film that was complete from beginning to end. Soy Cuba was able to draw on the evocative individual experiences of four different Cuban nationals. The movie was broken up into four distinct chapters. The first and second were arguably the most important, the first having show the hard life of a Cuban girl who was forced to prostitute herself, and the second told the story of an old farmer who scratched to get by and just when his crops were harvestable, his land was sold to an American company. These two were key in creating empathy for the Cuban people who were suffering in the new and more modernized Cuba which seemed to suffer from a large American presence. Susan Eckstein noted that by the time of the revolution Cuba was the recipient of, “The second largest amount of American investment.” (Eckstein 503) The American influence and money was having a decidedly bad effect on the Cubans and was visibly aiding in the poverty and degradation of society. The three Americans in the bar seemed to be intentionally portrayed as immoral and detestable characters. A young bride to be is forced by society to turn herself into a prostitute that is violated by the Americans.
Likewise the sympathetic figure of the old farmer having his rented land sold out from under him, continued the growth of the oppressed tableau that was Cuban society. American money was being poured into Cuba, buying up properties and companies at a rapid rate. The Americans were profiting while Cubans were just trying to make a living. Even worse, John Chasteen noted that the way in which the Americans were running the Cuban economy was on occasion intentionally designed to be inefficient so that the Cuban couldn’t compete with American companies and that, “this kind of industrialization only reinforced the economic subordination of Latin America. (Chasteen 258)
The first two chapters successfully showed how the Cubans were ripe for political unrest and their choice for the topic of the next two chapters were particularly striking. Kalatozov chose to focus on the young students in the Cuban schools as being the source for the idealism behind revolution. The girl and the farmer provided the outrage for the revolution, but the young students who were questioning the government and rising up outright against the unfairness of Batista’s government provided the passion and young idealism that really spurred on the revolution. Likewise the farmer Mariano showed how average Cubans, who weren’t caught up in the outrage of the oppressed or the idealism of the young , revolutionaries, were forced to finally choose a side and stand with the revolutionaries in order to obtain a safer Cuba for their families.
All in all, Soy Cuba did a fantastic job of telling the story of the Cuban Revolution. Kalatozov was able to weave story with the social, political, and emotional nuance required of a movie of this sort. At the same time though, he was able to go further that Eisenstein and actually show the complete transformation of Cuban society to passionate and untied revolutionaries who were fighting for the poor brides to be, the old farmers, the young students, and average people who weren’t interested in the political struggle but who wanted a secure Cuba in which to raise their families.