Fidel (2002)

(On DVD, December 2006) While this 200-minutes long film may not be easy entertainment, it’s a splendid piece of docu-fiction that at least gives the impression of teaching about Cuba’s post-WW2 history, through the life of Fidel Castro from his early days as a lawyer to the dictator of today. Fidel himself makes for a complicated subject, a heroic rabble-rouser who comes to be corrupted by his own ideals. While the film goes easy on the historical character during its first half, things get a lot more dramatic after the revolution, as Casto becomes darker and his regime… doesn’t measure up to the expectations. The quality of the reconstitution is adequate, especially given the reduced budget for a four hours-long made-for-TV docu-fiction. It’s surprisingly accessible, even despite the dropped threads, lopsided structure and often-simplified historical material. The Cuba crisis is particularly condensed, though it does a fine job at explaining the situation as seen from Fidel’s viewpoint. A good choice for anyone looking for a bit of easy history: not so good for those who just want to see a movie.

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