Quest Status: 745 / 1000
TSPDT Rank #259
Memories of Underdevelopment was released in 1968, but it takes place during the most famous period of modern Cuban history - starting in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion by US-sponsored counter-revolutionaries in 1961 and ending with the looming threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year. It starts out with dancing in the streets, followed by scenes of a bourgeois man watching his wife and parents leave for America. He has no political sensibilities, no feelings about the revolution one way or the other. Much stronger are his sexual desires, as he starts prowling around, leering at every attractive young woman in sight.
As a result, the first half of the film is something like a Fellini-esque sex comedy with ambiguous political commentary thrown in around the edges. In the second half, the man's philandering ways come back to haunt him, as the political situation in Cuba becomes increasingly confusing and fraught with tension. For me, the most interesting aspect was that Sergio, the protagonist, chooses to stay behind in Cuba and live the life of an outsider - despite having no connection to or even a coherent understanding of the revolution going on around him. Through Sergio's eyes, Memories of Underdevelopment examines the passive observers within its country with a critical eye, while also asking the viewer what side of the line they would fall on if placed in the same situation.
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This review is part of my new Tumblr blog Cinema Cycles, which can be found here.