In the luggage that Fidel Castro, the Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and the rest of the 82 guerrillas carried when in 1956 they abandoned their Mexican exile aboard the ship Granma bound for Cuba, there was a movie camera. Already in Sierra Maestra Fidel and his companions allowed themselves to be filmed regularly in order to publicize their fight. From the overthrow of the dictator Fulgencio Batista and from the triumphal entry of the revolutionaries into Havana it was the cameras that fell in love with Fidel, pursuing him ceaselessly and forever.
Fidel Castro he knew of the testimonial importance of cinema. One of the first steps he took upon seizing power was the creation of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry. In the following years, it would support the creation of other institutions such as the Havana Film Festival or the International Film and Television School.
For Castro cinema was primarily a political affair and he did not hesitate to legitimize censorship as a weapon to defend his revolution from what he called “pernicious imperialist influence.” But beyond the political use he made of the medium, Fidel Castro he was also a great movie buff. The Cuban leader saw in his private cinema or through videos all the important films that came to Cuba, although in the documentary Commander confessed to Oliver Stone that in the last years of his life he hardly saw any.
Fidel Castro he was a good friend of the actor Gerard Depardieu and he also had his movie idols. What Sophia Loren O Brigitte Bardot. The late Cuban dictator appears more than 80 times cited in the Inter Movie Data Base, most of them as the protagonist of documentary films, but there are also entries as a film character and even some as an actor.
At the age of 19 and while studying at the University, he tried to carve out a career as a Latin heartthrob in Hollywood, although he only managed to appear as an extra in three films starring Esther Williams and 1946. And Festival in Mexico He appears wearing a ruffled shirt and no beard as one of the choristers accompanying Xavier Cugat. On Follow the wedding can be seen by the pool looking at the actress and in Mermaid school It seems that he did have a minimal piece of paper, that of a student preparing for a quiz on television, but his scene was eliminated in the montage. All three films were banned in Cuba when Fidel and its revolutionaries came to power.
On the other hand, he is the protagonist in the dozens of documentaries that analyze his figure from various angles. From the most accommodating like My brother Fidel, to the most critical like Cuba, the beautiful one. One of the best known is Commander, the result of more than 30 hours of recordings and interviews with the Cuban leader that Oliver Stone recorded in 2003.
The image of Fidel is also sneaked numerous times through archival documents in many films. Titles like The Price of Power, JFK, Before Dark O Topaz from Alfred Hitchcock, include real images of Castro. Images almost always of one of his speeches. A curious case was the movie Cuban rebel girls, the rebellious Cuban girls, released in 1959 and written and starring Errol Flynn. In this film, which was the last one he shot Errol Flynn Before his death, the actor plays an American journalist who tries to interview Fidel and ends up fighting alongside his guerrillas. Well, the actual pictures of Castro and his are mixed with those of fiction interpreted by the actors.
Then there are the various movies in which Fidel Castro appears as a movie character. The only biopic, more or less official, that has been made to date is the television miniseries Fidel released in 2002 and starring the Mexican actor Victor Hugo Martin. And it is that the cinema has paid much more attention to the figure of the Che Guevara than to Fidel Castro.
In the movie That who directed Richard Fleischer in 1969, Omar Sharif gave life to the Argentine guerrilla while Jack Palance put face to Castro. In this film he was portrayed as a hesitant leader with no ideas of his own and was the That the one who appeared as the great strategist of the Cuban revolution both in the guerrilla struggle and in the decisions taken when he came to power.
In 2008 Steven Soderbergh He approached the figure of the Che Guevara in your diptych Che, the Argentinian and What, guerrilla, starring Benicio, the bull and in which Fidel It also appears as a secondary character. In these two films he was the Mexican actor Demián Bichir the one who gave life to the Cuban leader. On Lost City, directed by the actor Andy Garcia, the character of Fidel it appeared several times, but always in the background.
On I love Miami, released in 2006 was Spanish Juan Luis Galiardo placeholder image the one who put a face on it. And in the movie Mess in Havana the dictator was played by the Australian actor Anthony LaPaglia. Mess in Havana, Released in 2000, it was a parodic comedy that revolved around a CIA plot to assassinate Castro. And speaking of parodies we can’t forget either Bananas from Woody Allen, in which it was not exactly about the Cuban revolution but whose characters were clearly inspired by Castro and yours.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.