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The Lost City
Thursday, August 24, 2006   By: Mahone Dunbar

An Anglo's view

Finally, a Hollywood film that doesn't glaze over the evil of Fidel and Che.

Note to Paxety readers. The new Andy Garcia film The Lost City, which the native Cuban directs and stars in, is now out at the video stores. Lost City, set in Havana in the pivotal years of 1958 and 1959, revolves around a Cuban patriarch and the way his three sons react to Batista's tyranny and the revolution. The youngest is attracted to the revolutionary tenets proclaimed by Castro and joins him in the jungle; the older brother joins a cabal and perishes in a failed attempt to assassinate Batista; and the middle son, played by Garcia, a club owner dedicated to Cuban music and dance, is left to try and hold the family together as the tides of change crash down around them.

The film strives to re-create the pre-Castro elegance of Havana, and is filled with romance, beautiful scenery, and intoxicating Cuban music. Though a little unevenly paced at times - a little talky here, a little too travelogue there - all in all it succeeds well. There is also a lot of romance, and lots of beautiful dancing women - a prospect which, political considerations aside, makes one yearn for a restoration of the glory days of pre-revolutionary Havana.

Central to the movie is the revolution and the rise to power of dictator Fidel Castro, and his betrayal of the Cuban people, who expected free elections after Batista was overthrown. In a telling moment, after much clamor from the world community for free elections, a headline proclaims Castro's response; "The people have already voted."

Snippets underscore the insanity of the revolution and political correctness gone stark raving mad. For example, at one point Garcia is informed that saxophones cannot be used in Cuban music anymore because they were invented by a person from an imperialistic country, Belgium. (But of course the revolutionaries do not disdain the weapons invented by imperialists.) Perhaps most satisfying for the literate film-viewer who is long injured to Hollywood's fawning over Che', is that in this post-revolutionary paradise for serpents, Che' is shown to be the biggest nastiest reptile around. A couple of clips of real executions - without the subject having recourse to a trial - are artfully woven into the film to demonstrate the reality of Castro and Che's merciless quest for power.

Alas, for Cuba, Fidel and his revolutionaries turn out not to be saviors, but a nest of brutal vipers who stifle descent and opposition with torture and executions. Castro and Che choose not to close the torture chambers of Batista, but instead merely convert them into instruments of terror to be used against enemies of the revolution, i.e., anyone who opposes the whims of Fidel or Che'. Though the sound track is beautiful, perhaps Garcia should have chosen the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again," whose tag line is ''meet the new boss, same as the old boss.'' The lines could have very well been penned for Castro - save the fact that he has proven himself worse than the monster he replaced, and that, while Bastia was a raging sickness, Castro has proven to be an intractable cancer.


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren