Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Movie Critics Aghast at Andy Garcia's 'The Lost City' -- by Humberto Fontova

By Aussiegirl

Quite predictably, the liberal press have not taken kindly to Andy Garcia's tale of pre-Castro Cuba. How dare he take on the dictator most beloved by Hollywood cognoscenti? Humberto Fontova, who has written a book about Castro (Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant), fills us in on a few of the lesser known details, such as -- Cuba's thriving middle class prior to the revolution, and the inconvenient fact that Castro's revolution was staged by lawyers and disaffected intellectuals, NOT starving peasants and exploited workers, who, when called upon by Castro to honor a general strike, showed up to work and gave Castro a giant raspberry. Here are a few further details from a UNESCO report on pre-Castro Cuba. Compare that to the rampant poverty and misery and repression that is the hallmark of Castro's reign.

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE - Movie Critics Aghast at Andy Garcia's 'The Lost City' by Humberto Fontova

Andy Garcia blew it big-time with his movie "The Lost City." He blew it with the mainstream critics that is.

Almost unanimously, they're ripping a movie 16 years in the making. In this engaging drama of a middle-class Cuban family crumbling during free Havana's last days, in which he both directs and stars, Garcia insisted on depicting some historical truth about Cuba -- a grotesque and unforgivable blunder in his industry. He's now paying the price.

Earlier, many film festivals refused to screen it. Now many Latin American countries refuse to show it. The film's "offenses" are many and varied. Most unforgivable of all, Che Guevara is shown killing people in cold blood. Who ever heard of such nonsense? And just where does this uppity Andy Garcia get the effrontery to portray such things? The man obviously doesn't know his place.

[...]Garcia's tale bemoans the loss of easy wealth for a precious few, " harrumphs Michael Atkinson in The Village Voice. "Poor people are absolutely absent; Garcia and Infante seem to have thought that peasant revolutions happen for no particular reason -- or at least no reason the moneyed 1 percent should have to worry about."

What's "absolutely absent" is Atkinson's knowledge about the Cuba Garcia depicts in his movie. His crack about that "moneyed 1 percent," and especially his "peasant revolution" epitomize the clich├ęd idiocies still parroted by the chattering classes about Cuba.

"The impoverished masses of Cubans who embraced Castro as a liberator appear only in grainy, black-and-white news clips," snorts Stephen Holden in the New York Times. "Political dialogue in the film is strictly of the junior high school variety."

It's Holden's education on the Cuban Revolution that's of the "junior high school variety." Actually, it's Harvard Graduate School variety. Many more imbecilities about Cuba are heard in Ivy League classrooms than in any rural junior high school.

"It fails to focus on the poverty-stricken workers whose plight lit the fires of revolution," complains Rex Reed in the New York Observer.

You're better off attempting rational discourse with the Flat-Earth Society, but nonetheless I'll try to dispel the fantasies of pre-Castro Cuba still cherished by America's most prestigious academics and its most learned film critics. I'll even stay away from those "crackpots" and "hotheads" in Miami. In place of those insufferable "revanchists" and "hard-liners" I'll use a source generally esteemed by liberal highbrow types, the United Nations.

Here's a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report on Cuba circa 1957: "One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class," it starts. "Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an eight-hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 percent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 percent, in Switzerland 64 percent. 44 percent of Cubans are covered by Social legislation, a higher percentage then in the U.S."

In 1958 Cuba had a higher per-capita income than Austria and Japan. Cuban industrial workers had the eighth highest wages in the world. In the 1950s Cuban stevedores earned more per hour than their counterparts in New Orleans and San Francisco. Cuba had established an eight-hour work day in 1933 -- five years before FDR's New Dealers got around to it. Add to this: a one-month paid vacation. The much-lauded (by liberals) Social-Democracies of Western Europe didn't manage this till 30 years later.

And get this Maxine Waters, Barbara Walters, Andrea Mitchel, Diane Sawyer and the rest of you feminist Castro groupies -- Cuban women got three-months paid maternity leave. I repeat, this was in the 1930s. Cuba, a country 71 percent white in 1957, was completely desegregated 30 years before Rosa Parks was dragged off that Birmingham bus and handcuffed. In 1958 Cuba had more female college graduates per capita than the U.S.

The anti-Batista rebellion (not revolution) was staffed and led overwhelmingly by college students and professionals. Unemployed lawyers were prominent (take Fidel Castro himself). Here's the makeup of the "peasant revolution's" first cabinet, drawn from the leaders in the anti-Batista fight: seven lawyers, two University professors, three University students, one doctor, one engineer, one architect, one former city mayor and Colonel who defected from the Batista Army. A notoriously "bourgeois" bunch as Che himself might have put it.

By 1961, however, workers and campesinos (country folk) made up the overwhelming bulk of the anti-Castroite rebels, especially the guerrillas in the Escambray mountains. And boy, would THAT rebellion make for an action-packed and gut-wrenching movie! If by some miracle it ever got made you can bet these learned critics would pan it too. Who ever heard of poor country-folk fighting against their benefactors Fidel and Che?


At 12:46 AM, Blogger Al said...

Aussiegirl, There are lots of apologists for Castro in this country. What's also interesting that many well-known American Blacks support Castro, though hotels in Cuba that cater to tourists are full of white employees, the top leaders are overwhelmingly white, etc. The Black Cubans compose the majority of those in jail and the poorest of the poor.


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