Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Oliver Stone's documentary about Fidel Castro is the result of 30 hours of interviews which paint a vivid, if patchy, portrait of the Cuban leader.

From the outset Stone says Castro can stop the cameras at any time, but it is testimony to the strength of character and charisma of the man, that he never takes him up on it.

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Castro, now 75, seems more at ease with his leadership than ever before and is happy to be expansive about his life ("Feel the fervour"), his philosophy ("If I hadn't succeeded, I'd be dead") and glory ("All the glory of the world fits into a kernel of corn").

The impression you are left with after watching the movie is mixed. On the one hand, Stone's line of thought can be hard to follow at times and some of his questions border on the inane, but, on the other, Castro seems happy to tolerate virtually anything asked of him and tries to answer succinctly.

He believes that his life, in the service of Communism and his people, has been well spent, but it is clear also that this has cost him on a personal level. It is telling that the one area of his life on which he refuses to be drawn is his relationships.

It seems Stone's access was fairly unfettered and he tags along while Castro tours everything from art galleries to schools, trying to fill in the gaps as he goes along.

While it is clear that Castro is skirting round the truth on several issues, particularly the thorny questions surrounding the death of Che Guavara, he still comes across as an erudite and philosophical soul, who knows where he stands on virtually any issue, and that stance is not just to the left.

As it would have probably taken another 30 hours to prise out more substantial detail from the man, you have to give Stone credit where it is due. It's interesting to hear Castro's views on Stone's pet subject - President Kennedy's death - and his comments on Vietnam, which paint a picture of Oliver as well as Fidel.

Informative and set within a potted history lesson, this really might be all you ever wanted to know about Cuba but were afraid to ask - at least from its leader's perspective.

Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2003
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Oliver Stone interviews Fidel Castro.
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Director: Oliver Stone

Starring: Fidel Castro

Year: 2002

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


EIFF 2003

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If you like this, try:

The Cuban Game