Director: Oliver Stone
Duration: 99 minutes
Oliver Stone has made films about JFK and Nixon. This time
he has made a documentary about Fidel Castro. It is not just
about Castro. Castro features as the star, about 90 minutes
culled from 30 hours of interviews done in February 2002.
For that reason, it is well worth seeing.
At the time of the interviews, Castro was 75 and had been
in power in Cuba for 43 years. Castro seems very agreeable,
friendly with Stone and working through his interpreter. Stone
himself also features a great deal, a kind of star turn which
does suggest at times, especially in his sometimes awe of
Castro, an ego trip.
At first some of the questions seem genial but trivial (and
we learn that Castro saw Titanic on video, that he liked Brigitte
Bardot and was one of the few who saw his favourite star,
Gerard Depardieu, in Vatel). Once Castro gets a chance to
talk about the revolution, the Battista regime and the role
of Che Guevara, he is worth listening to and watching the
body language. He is, as might be expected, very informative
on the Bay of Pigs and the October missiles. He seems quite
kindly towards John Kennedy, excusing him for the Bay of Pigs
(which he had inherited from Eisenhower) and speaking about
his inexperience as President. He admired Kruschev but was
wary about the Soviet missiles fearing that Cuba would be
the first target of a nuclear strike. He speaks about his
own inexperience of understanding the world balance of power
at such an early stage in his government. He sheets home blame
to the US and the still-in-force sanctions against Cuba. He
is also interesting on his intervention in Angola and the
very limited presence in Vietnam.
He explains his atheism (and his dislike of dogmatic religious
teaching which he experienced growing up) but received Pope
John II and says that he supports religion which instils values
but not when it is used to back up causes.
On the whole, this is a pleasant interview, favorable towards
the Castro regime and not strongly critical. It does make
one reflect on a man who has led his country despite a great
deal of isolation for almost half a century.