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HTF REVIEW: "Fidel" (with screenshots) (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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Fidel




Year: 2002
Rated: NR
Film Length: 206 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame



In selecting which title next to review, I looked
at the pile of DVDs that sat on my desk and decided
to pick Fidel. Though nearly 3.5 hours in
length and not even anamorphic, I felt the need
to watch this in order to learn something about
a man I knew very little about. As usual in cases
like these, I walked away thoroughly amazed.
fidel1.jpg

Originally premiering last January on the Showtime
Network, Fidel received critical acclaim.
Based on the books "Guerilla Prince" (Georgie Anne
Geyer) and "Fidel Castro" (Robert E. Quirk), this
is the story of Fidel's political rise in 1949, to
his country's continued economic decline of today.
fidel2.jpg

The film begins in 1949 Havana as we see a young
Fidel cruising the streets with his friends. He is
concerned about the corrupt political climate of
his country, which is under the control of General
Batista. Fidel is also angered by the power of
American corporations that he sees as exploiting
the Cubans. By 1952, Fidel starts organizing an
army, planning the liberation of Cuba. Though
initial attempts end up disastrously, he takes
to the mountains where he engages in guerilla
warfare, slowly drumming up support from the public.
By 1959, Fidel valiantly marches into Santiago
shortly after Batista flees the country.
fidel3.jpg

The film continues showing Fidel's reign through
the 60's, including Cuba embracing communism and
the politically unstable U.S. Bay of Pigs incident.
Through the 80's, with Fidel is still in power,
we see him losing touch with his people as many
take their chance in fleeing by boat to the United
States. Though shot in color, the film often turns
to black and white for short periods of time to
integrate itself with original footage from the
historical moments being represented.
fidel4.jpg

Actor Victor Hugo Martin makes his English language
debut, in a remarkably stunning and convincing
portrayal of Fidel Castro. Through the 3.5 hours
of this film, we watch this actor age 50 years.
It's one of those performances that keep you glued
to the screen.
How is the transfer?
Originally produced for television, Fidel
is presented in full-frame. This will initially
bother widescreen set owners, but trust me, it's
the film itself that is more important. The
transfer also slightly suffers, looking only as
good as broadcast quality. Though colors are
quite vivid, there is a noticeable amount of video
noise present throughout. You never get the sense
that you are watching anything theatrical film quality.
The sound is presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital.
I would have hoped that even a cable network
would prosper from a film like this being heard
in full surround, but alas, it just wasn't meant
to be. Fortunately the soundtrack sounds very
robust, with a nice presence of bass from the
front speakers -- especially in scenes involving
music.
Special Features
There really isn't much anything of great interest
presented here when you consider what *could* have
been included.
First of all, shame on you Artisan for not
providing subtitles for the hearing impaired.
I cannot stress enough how important subtitles
are to home entertainment.
Though the DVD box indicates the inclusion of
John F. Kennedy's Speech on the Cuban Missile
Crisis, do not be fooled into believing (as
I was) that this would be video footage. It is
simply pages of text of the entire speech.
There are also Production Notes and
Cast Biographies included.
None of Showtime's promotional featurettes are
even included here.
Final Thoughts
For anyone who has ever wondered who Fidel
Castro is, and what made him become the man he
has become, ought to watch this riveting film.
His story of struggled uprising is an amazing
one. The film remains hard-edged, well paced,
and features a stellar cast.
For under $15 online, this is a DVD worth taking
purchase risks on.
Release Date: May 21, 2002
 

Aaron Silverman

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I'm shocked that a TV production is missing captions! Anyone know if the original broadcast had them?
 

Luis M

Second Unit
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Jul 2, 2000
Messages
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Hello there Ronald Epstein, I just read your thread on the dvd from Artisan called "Fidel" and just for the sake of accurate information and since you seem to give this release a special treatment in a review-like format that catches the eye, let me take a minute to remind those who may be inclined to get the film for its artistic merits that Fidel's life is not the romantic life potrayed in this movie and even though sometimes critical of Fidel, the film does not do justice of the true nature of a dictator that has been in power for the last 42 years, yes 42 years and counting. I am also obligated to respond to your statement that says "to his country continued economic decline of today" the horror of poverty and bad economies apply to all countries and all continents but this is the least of Cuba's problems today and for that matter, what Cuba has been facing for the last four decades which are the lack of freedom of speech, movement,relegion, all the human rights that are a given in a country like ours and the right to choose a new president every few years. Accurate historical facts would have been much preffered to a great cinematic experience. Take it from me, I have been in the beast's belly and is not romantic at all. I am sorry to have taken this Hometheater forum that I love so much to the potitical arena but your review of the dvd made it look as if you took this picture as the real thing. Thank you, Luis Manrara.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Luis,

I very much appreciate your comments.

I had stated that my reason for wanting to

review this film was to learn something. At

the start of the film, a disclaimer is put up

saying that the is accurately presented.

I have no doubt that you have far more insight

into Cuba's reign under Fidel then I do.

Thanks again.
 

MikeF

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Oct 17, 2000
Messages
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...Fidel's life is not the romantic life potrayed in this movie and even though sometimes critical of Fidel, the film does not do justice of the true nature of a dictator that has been in power for the last 42 years, yes 42 years and counting... [W]hat Cuba has been facing for the last four decades which are the lack of freedom of speech, movement,relegion, all the human rights that are a given in a country like ours and the right to choose a new president every few years... Take it from me, I have been in the beast's belly and is not romantic at all.
Ah, the entirely predictable sound of Cuban ex-patriates living in Florida. If you know this forum isn't supposed to be political, why are you making it such?

Having "visited the beast's belly" myself some eight times over the last 15 years, I can say that Castro is most certainly not the monster that those like Luis suggest he is. While Cuba no doubt has issues with which to contend -- more so economic than human rights-related -- its state of affairs seems far preferable to that of other Latin American countries and is most certainly preferable to that seen under Batista. Cuba has the highest literacy rate in Latin America and the lowest infant mortality rate. There is universal health care, free university education, and virtually no crime. There is freedom of religion; for crying out loud, the Pope paid a week-long visit in January 1998. There are even elections in respect of Cuba's National Assembly (i.e. Parliament).

I haven't seen the film and thus am not going to comment on it, but please, skip the bullshit anti-Castro rhetoric. It's an unpleasant American phenomenon that is never heard elsewhere in the world.
 

Luis M

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 2, 2000
Messages
282
Thank you Ronald for answering my thread, you are a Gentleman. It's people like you who keep me comimg back to this forum, for that reason I would never disrespect people who think different than me. Back to home-theater and God bless the greatest country on the face of the earth.. The united States of America.
 

Alfonso_M

Second Unit
Joined
Sep 25, 2000
Messages
399
Common Ron, I think those Cuban cigars are clouding your vision on this one..:laugh:
Let me see if get this right, from the beginning they are trying to *fool you* with *fancy packaging* and *misleading print*, they could *care less* for the hearing impaired, they prefer to *cutback* to full frame, the *image suffers in quality*, they give you *less* sound (DD 2.0) for the same price, and to top it off they produced an *inferior* non- anamorphic *image* that no one buys around the world.
It looks to me like this DVD accurately reflects the subject matter! :laugh:
Oh yes, if the IRS forced me to turnover 99% of my paycheck I’d expect “Universal Health Care” too, even if a mediocre one!:laugh:
 

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