Fidel (film)

Fidel is the name of a mini-series by David Attwood that describes the Cuban revolution and political career of Fidel Castro.

The total duration of the series is about 3 hours and 20 minutes, but the video-version is shorter.

The film is almost documentary in its portrayal of facts. It claims to be based strongly on facts, apart from some adaptations like merging various characters into one.

After two hours the movie changes dramatically. The first two hours are about the six years before the fall of Batista. The last hour is about the 40 years after that. Consequently the presentation of facts is very sketchy, many things are left out, and the order of events is not always correct. The mood changes as well – the beginning is suspiciously positive, but after the Revolutionaries take over, almost everything is put in a negative light. Castro is shown as still willing but also stupid, using illogical reasonings which are not consistent with someone who has a degree in Law. There are also several suggestions that Castro lost the trust of the people and lost contact with the people.

In the first two hours Castro regularly distances himself from Communism and Communists, but after the take-over, the film suggests that Castro had always aspired a Marxist-Leninist State.

Being a US film, it uses US terminology, such as use of the word Communism instead of Socialism, which is the word used in Cuba (the goal may be Communism, but the method is Socialism). Also, the US is referred to as 'America' and the continent as 'the Americas', whereas the term 'America' is in Cuba reserved for the Continent (eg, in one of the historical recordings that are shown, the crowd chants 'Cuba si, Yankee no', not 'Cuba yes, America no').

Despite the attempt to stay true to the facts, there are some inaccuracies:

  • The warning that the US were to invade Cuba came before the Bay of Pigs invasion, not after it, and it was about that invasion, not the Cuban Missile Crisis, which came later.
  • Che Guevara went to Africa before he went to Bolivia.
  • The trial of General Ochoa did not coincide with the 1980 Mariel boatlift but took place nine years later.
  • Almost no Blacks are shown, even though they constitute about half of the Cuban population.
  • Some events are dramatised, such as the conversation Castro had with the US ambassador, which never took place.

Also, the film depicts Huber Matos as a hero who was unjustly sentenced to prison because he was concerned with the Communist direction of the Cuba Revolution and that these statements were made privately. However, it is common knowledge that he made public anti-communist speeches in July 1959 in Camagüey, criticising the direction the revolution was taking. Furthermore, counterintelligence on the CIA concluded that Huber Matos was working in conjunction with persons such as Tony Varona, Carlos Prio, and Manuel Artime with the plans for a counter-revolution organised by the Central Intelligence Agency under Frank Sturgis.

Along with Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Fulgencio Batista, over a dozen other historical characters are featured, including Celia Sanchez, Camilo Cienfuegos, Eduardo Chibas, Raúl Castro, Huber Matos, Herbert Matthews, Abel Santamaria and his sister Haydee Santamaria.

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