Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del subdesarrollo)

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Total Count: 22


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Movie Info

The first Cuban film made after Fidel Castro's revolution to receive widespread distribution (and acclaim) in the United States, Memories of Underdevelopment is not exactly a broad endorsement of Castro's new Cuba. Its protagonist, Sergio (Sergio Correri) is depicted in the opening scenes as happy to see off his wife and parents and friends; they are fleeing Cuba in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion for America. He is skeptical of the ability of the Revolution to make a real change in Cuban society, observing that it is only the latest passion for an ever-changing society. Although Sergio's family furniture business has been taken over by the state, he still has a modest income as the landlord of several apartment buildings. He spends much of his time observing, either by walking the streets of Havana or using his telescope to spy on others from the safety of his apartment balcony. His passion is women, and in Elena (Daisy Granados), he finds an especially attractive object of desire. Her lack of experience excites him, but it almost proves his undoing when he decides to move on to other prey and Elena's family accuses him at a public trial of seducing and raping her. Acquitted and temporarily chastened, Sergio muses on what a new crisis, the discovery of Soviet missile installations by the United States, will mean for his island and his future. Filmmaker Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's next widely distributed film, 1994's Strawberry and Chocolate, was even more critical of the Castro government, focusing on its persecution of homosexuals. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi


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Critic Reviews for Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del subdesarrollo)

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (8)

  • Alternating between immediacy and reflection, fantasy and honesty, lyricism and horror, Memories of Underdevelopment feels like it's being created before our very eyes.

    Jan 16, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Gutierrez Alea blends documentary and feature devices, steals street scenes that put fictional characters in real situations, and offers New Wave-influenced insights into a man who resents what's around him but can't bring himself to leave it.

    Jan 12, 2018 | Full Review…
  • This audacious, sensual portrait of an alienated intellectual in the early days of Castro's Cuba, released in 1968, is one of the great movies of its era.

    Mar 15, 2015 | Full Review…
  • The eventual worldwide recognition of Underdevelopment as one of Cuba's finest films speaks as much for the frozen moment it captures as for its unimpeachable quality.

    Oct 21, 2010 | Full Review…
  • This transfixing movie, with its mix of freewheeling dialogue scenes, still photo images and documentary footage, conjures up the uncertain mood of Havana just after the revolution.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Alea proceeds with dazzling and highly accomplished technique towards a perceptive and witty analysis.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Rod McShane

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del subdesarrollo)

  • Sep 13, 2011
    Extraordinary collage of intellectual and political improvisation, featuring faithfully the sensual eccentricities of the French New Wave, the stylish Italian roughness and the remnants of Communist/Soviet ideals seen through the glasses of a post-revolutionary society that was barely learning how to manage the societal changes present. My theory is that Sergio is, if it could be said like that, the alter-ego of the Latin American nation, both trying to understand the constant modifications occurring in their surrounding environment just to be threatened by foreign invasions in the process. 99/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 10, 2008
    Inspired by French nouvelle vague and Italian neorealism, Gutierrez Alea tells a picaresque and penetrating character study of a Cuban bourgeois trying to find his identity among the people living in the recently established socialist regime of Fidel Castro. A look on the underdeveloped Latin America that is deep down inside quite bitter, corrosive and deprived of hope.
    Pierluigi P Super Reviewer

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