Oliver Stone’s Comandante

commandante

Unless you’ve been living in a catatonic state since the double-whammy of Brexit and Trump-ton, you’ll know that Fidel Castro, lifetime president of Cuba, has died at the age of 90 (and not by the hands of the CIA, who tried to do him in multiple times with increasingly bizarre methods).

In 2002, film-maker Oliver Stone interviewed the man intensively for three days with unprecedented access for a partly financed HBO film. Shortly before it was due to screen on the cable network, Castro executed three hijackers of a ferry to the US and imprisoned more than 70 political dissidents. The film was canned.

Comandante opens with black-and-white newsreel footage of Castro’s triumphant entrance into Havana in January 1959. Apart from some more newsreel footage, the majority of Stone’s first documentary is comprised of Stone and Castro relaxing and chatting surprisingly frankly.

“I’m not sure it’s a documentary,” Stone recalled. “I can’t define it. The fourth wall is ripped; there was no sense of order or manipulation.”

“How do you get into mind of someone who is head-of-state, who is basically a stranger? Why did we have question-and-answers? Why did we have talking heads? ‘Why’ motivated everything through the whole thing, including ultimate questions that came to me, what I felt like asking him.”

Kathy A. McDonald notes in her piece on the film:

In post-production, Stone and his editor, Alex Marquez, found that the translator often changed Castro’s words. Subtitles in the film reflect what Castro literally says often in subtle conflict with the translator. Ultra-clarity and over-elaboration in the translation were essential to Stone.

Via Indiewire, here is both the documentary and the option to watch with Stone’s commentary.

https://vimeo.com/99078224

 

https://vimeo.com/99088439

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Originally posted 2016-11-27 13:50:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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