Fidel (2002)

This is the most comprehensive and balanced dramatic film about political icon Fidel Castro that exists and it is well worth a look despite its seemingly prohibitive 3 1/2 hour length.

Beginning in the 1950's we see how a young and charismatic lawyer begins a political career. The smooth talking Fidel wins followers against the corrupt, American-backed government of Batista; a country ripe for revolution if ever there was one. In the second third of the film, he is joined by a group of ragtag political discontents and the real revolution begins in the mountains and sweeps across the island.

What was most striking for me was watching the beginning of the final chapter of the film as Castro takes the reins of power and really doesn't know what to do. No one has thought of what to do after power is seized and this is really the true weakness of Castro's legacy. Because of a lack of direction, he feels threatened and imprisons anyone who dares question his authority or intentions. Ché Guevara and Raul Castro play prominent roles and we see where they disagreed on policy.

After a shaky introduction, the English speaking Latino actors give you an admirable sense of how life in Cuba was like before, during, and after the revolution. Because the film was made for TV, it surely did not have a suitable budget for such a large scale film, but by focusing on the story rather than offering sweeping battle scenes it doesn't have a cheap feel in the least.

The viewer comes face to face with what Cuba could have been and also a respect for the revolution as it was rather than what it became.

Truth: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. When political ideals are sought with all ones might, many virtues are sacrificed.


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