Its not so often that a movie really inspires me to find old history books and re-read things that I learned in college (I was a Latin American/Iberian Studies Major). This was one of those movies that did. The Lost City is Andy Garcia’s directorial debut and his 16-year labor of love. Its a beautiful story of a city, Havana, Cuba. For most of the actors in this movie, of Cuban descent, this movie is very important, as for they can no longer go back there, and are living in exile.
The story moves quickly with music taking us through every step of the film. The music captures the essence of Havana, Cuba, from the powerfulness of Afro-Cuban beats, to more popular Cuban music. The scenery is gorgeous, with views of the colonial city of Havana, to the gorgeous cabanas, to the crystal clear ocean.
What is interesting of the film is how the Fellove family begins to crumble. A family that is so filled with love slowly deteriorates, much the way the country of Cuba does. A well-to-do middle class family, with a father that is a professor at the university, Fico (Andy Garcia) who owns the Tropico cabana. But as it becomes apparent that the fall of Batista will be inevitable, and the children start joining Revolutionary armies, the family soon falls apart. One son joins up with the July 26 movement (Che Guevara’s), and another son joins a movement to reinstate the 1940’s Constitution. As the country soon falls, and Che and Fidel rise, choices need to be made. Families are forever torn apart, with many members taking exile in Miami and NYC. Most of these families will never see each other again.
What is unfortunate, unlike Spielberg’s name on the film, it will never been seen by most. It has terrific acting, with cameos from Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murry as the writer (interjecting about the absurdity that is going on), and a brilliant fictional story with historical overtones, its worth seeing in the way Schindler’s List is worth seeing. It doesn’t glorify Che, the way he is now seen on bumper stickers, shirts, etc. It shows Che for what he was and neither him nor Fidel walk away with clean hands. Che is said to have murdered a good 2000 people – which makes one wonder. For those wearing his shirt, I always wondered, did they take the time to read into Che and stop looking at him as a hero.
Unfortunately Cuba is not the only country to have gone through this revolution. Bolivia also had a similar revolution. So did most of Latin America at some point. History does repeat itself unfortunately, and maybe one day people will start to learn about Latin America and what really goes on.
So, if you have the opportunity to see this, please do! And if you have a chance listen to the commentary, and read what the actors had to say about filming this movie. It had an impact on everyone and knowing how it inspired these actors inspired me to start re-reading about some of the brilliant artists, poets and writers from Cuba. Marti was a brilliant poet. And there are so many others to name.