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

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, May 8, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein


    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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
    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
  2. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

    Jan 22, 1999
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    Aaron Silverman
    I'm shocked that a TV production is missing captions! Anyone know if the original broadcast had them?
  3. Steven Simon

    Steven Simon Producer

    Sep 14, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Steven Simon
    My kind of flick..... CIgars, Cigars, Cigars!!!!
  4. Keith M.

    Keith M. Second Unit

    Apr 1, 1999
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    i hear crickets!!!
  5. Luis M

    Luis M Second Unit

    Jul 2, 2000
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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.
  6. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    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.
  7. MikeF

    MikeF Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 17, 2000
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  8. Luis M

    Luis M Second Unit

    Jul 2, 2000
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    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.
  9. Alfonso_M

    Alfonso_M Second Unit

    Sep 25, 2000
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    Common Ron, I think those Cuban cigars are clouding your vision on this one..[​IMG]
    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! [​IMG]
    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![​IMG]
  10. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

    Oct 5, 1998
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    Boise, ID
    Real Name:

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