XIXAX Film Forum

Interesting article on Commandante

ębrad · 1 · 1368

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • Admin
  • *****
    • Posts: 4584
on: February 22, 2003, 08:58:49 AM
Director Stone Shows Human Side of Cuba's Castro
By Philip Blenkinsop

BERLIN (Reuters) - Director Oliver Stone said on Friday he hoped his new Fidel Castro documentary would create a more balanced view of the Cuban leader who heads one of world's last communist states.

"Is it bad to be a dictator?" asks Castro toward the end of Stone's film, which will be shown on U.S. television on May 11.

"I have seen the United States become very friendly toward some dictators."

The controversial and acclaimed director followed the Cuban leader, then 75, over three days in February 2002. His 30 hours of interviews were cut down and combined with documentary footage to produce the 90-minute "Commandante."

Stone said he hoped the film would have some influence on Americans' opinions of Castro and contested charges that he had been too soft in his questioning of the Cuban leader, who bubbles with warmth and charm in the film. "I hope people cast aside their prejudices, not be pro- or anti-Castro, just look at it," Stone told a news conference after his film was shown at the Berlin film festival. America would probably take the attitude that the film was propaganda. It is easy to say Oliver Stone is asking soft questions," said Stone, who has won Oscar awards for best director for his bleak Vietnam war movie "Platoon" and its post-war sequel "Born on the Fourth of July."

Stone noted that he did ask Castro about allegations of torture in Cuba, which Castro denies, as well as the country's oppression of homosexuality, which Castro side-steps. And he said Castro admitted to having shortcomings as a father.

"In America, he is caricatured with a big beard and a cigar. I'm trying to get at the human beneath...He's the oldest living revolutionary. We should get him on film before it's too late."

In "Commandante," Stone covers a lot of ground, from Castro's views on shaving and sport to his love of films. Castro admits to having seen "Titanic" and "Gladiator" before declaring his admiration for screen stars Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, and Charlie Chaplin.

Throughout, Castro wears his trademark green fatigues, but when the camera pans to his shoes it shows how times have changed: even a veteran revolutionary sports the ubiquitous Nike swoosh.

He discusses key moments in history from the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 to the collapse of Iron Curtain, expresses doubts about the lone gunman theory in U.S. President John F. Kennedy's assassination, and takes pride in increased Cuban literacy.

"I say it is one of the achievements of the revolution that even our prostitutes are university educated," Castro says.

Stone's next project will be a biopic of Alexander the Great starring Colin Farrell. But he is set to court controversy again with another project, "Persona Non Grata," a film about Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, set to air in June in America.

After Castro, Stone said he could imagine interviewing another U.S. enemy, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"I would try to get on with him in the same way... Who knows who he is. The American media makes him into a monster."

Like other stars and directors in Berlin, Stone criticized Washington's build-up to war in Iraq and the media's role.

"The media has loaded the question as to when we go to the inevitable war, not as to why," the Vietnam war veteran said.

"I have no idea why we're fighting Iraq. I'm all for the war against terror. I think the war we have is against al Qaeda... Containment of Iraq has worked for better or worse."