Tomás Gutiérrez Alea – Memorias del subdesarrollo AKA Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)


Plot Synopsis
Sergio, a wealthy bourgeois aspiring writer, decides to stay in Cuba even though his wife and friends flee to Miami. Sergio looks back over the changes in Cuba, from the Castro Revolution to the missile crisis, the effect of living in an underdeveloped country, and his relations with his girlfriends Elena and Hanna. Memories of Underdevelopment is a complex character study of alienation during the turmoil of social changes. The film is told in a highly subjective point of view through a fragmented narrative that remembles the way memories function. Continue reading

Tomás Gutiérrez Alea – Guantanamera (1995)

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In this satiric road movie from Cuba, Yoyita (Conchita Brando), a well-known singer living in Havana, travels with her niece Georgina (Mirta Ibarra), a college professor, to the village of her birth, where Yoyita is reunited with Candido (Raul Eguren), whom she loved as a young woman. When Yoyita and Candido meet for the first time in 50 years, they’re thrilled to discover that the flame of passion still burns within them; unfortunately, Yoyita is so thrilled that it gives her a heart attack, and she dies on the spot. Yoyita’s body must be transported back to Havana for burial, but while logic would dictate that Georgina should simply hire a hearse to make the journey, her husband, Adolfo (Carlos Cruz), a bureaucrat with more enthusiasm than common sense, has another idea — by transferring the body from one vehicle to another at the border of each province, the cost of fuel will be distributed more evenly along the route. No one much cares for this idea except Adolfo, but he has the law on his side, so Georgina, Candido, and Adolfo begin a long, slow journey back to Havana accompanied by truck drivers Ramon (Pedro Fernandez) and Mariano (Jorge Perugorria), who was Georgina’s student years ago. At every stop, the group meets a few of the people in each town (especially Mariano, who seems to have a girlfriend in every village in Cuba) and they share their thoughts on faith, politics, and love. Guantanamera was the final work from veteran Cuban director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea; he died before the film could be completed, so co-screenwriter Juan Carlos Tabió finished the film in his stead. Continue reading