The island of Cuba

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After being suspended from the Organization of American States in 1962, Cuba was sanctioned, causing the country's economy to suffer. As a result, by 1963, the nation had begun to move toward the communist regime of the Soviet Union. The country's living conditions deteriorated in the 1970s, prompting then-President Fidel Castro to admit the shortcomings of his government's economic policies. With its 16 member states' consent, the Organization of American States repealed its sanctions in 1975; however, the United States maintained its sanctions. Despite the country's socialist policies, Tomas Gutierrez Alea's work as a film director has shown that he is a talented director working under the revolutionary government. Alea's Film Fresa y chocolate suggests that “the revolutionary project can be saved if there is a more democratic and inclusive brand of communism” (Shaw 26). It brings forth an analysis that takes into explanation the complicated pressure between heterosexuality and homosexuality that happens between two display area which is nationalism and anti-nationalism. This platform indicates treason within the principles of the movie, between socialism and anti-socialism. Through the use of props and dialogue, in the scene were Germaine was smashing the sculptures (59:51 – 1:03:48), the director ""Tomas Gutierrez Alea criticizes Cuba’s more repressive policies in the 1970’s in order to demonstrate how the Cuban government’s actions as a result prevented “certain” Cuban’s to be viewed differently.

This scene shows Germaine smashing the sculptures while arguing with Diego (Alea & Tabio 59:51-1:03:48). His way of behavior and emotions portrays the state of uncontrolled vigilance of the CDR in Cuba, where a private act evidently is seen since surveillance from government universally lurks in the shadow to control thoughts. The sculptures are used to symbolize figures such as Karl Marx and Jesus to represent the Holy Family (Shaw 26). Furthermore, the holes are a way to carry out voyeurism, which proposes that huge social mores, disfigured away when seen as an audience take superiority over being a participant. 

The props present in the scene not only serve to deliver meaning in a direct sense but also metaphorically. Directly, some of the props including the paintings on the walls and the many other decorative pieces on display in the room, help construct the artistic nature of Diego and explore his exuberant ways. Despite the film having been set during one of Cuba’s most economically turbulent periods, the fact that Diego’s room is tastefully decorated portrays him as a free spirit both in thought and action. Diego’s non-conforming nature, as seen in the nature of his dressing and furnishing, also sets him apart as an individual capable of maintain his own in a society focused on the collective (Shaw 20).   

Metaphorically, props are also used by the director to critique Cuba’s repressive policies. The curtain-less windows depict a society bereft of privacy. They are used to good effect by the director to show how the government of the day had resorted to the use of surveillance to control thought. The sculpture of Karl Marx and its subsequent destruction by German (Alea & Tabio 59:51-1:03:48), portrays a society trapped in a dormant state of Marxism that carried special meaning at the beginning of the revolution but had been overtaken by the bureaucracy-which now only sought to exert control over the impoverished people. The director ""Tomas Gutierrez Alea criticizes Cuba’s more repressive policies in the 1970’s in order to demonstrate how the Cuban government’s actions as a result prevented “certain” Cuban’s to be viewed differently. The presence of the cross and the altar shows additional efforts to exert mind control over the people since for Karl Marx; “religion is the opiate of the people.”  Diego’s books on the other hand are a reminder that to be dissident in this society one needed to have successfully overcome attempts by the government to exert mind control by reading widely and, and at times, read works unauthorized by the administration

Through the dialogue in the scene, the director also succeeded in creating dialogical characters that granted the audience a sneak peek into both the regime’s oppressive policies and the citizens’ sentiments. From the dialogue it was clear that the government was strictly in control of the creative process in Cuba. Works of art were created mainly to blind the masses and exude blind optimism in the future despite the prevailing conditions being torrid. The nonexistent distinction between art and propaganda at the time is aptly captured by Diego’s quip- “When will they understand that art is one thing and propaganda is another?” (Alea & Tabio 59:51-1:03:48).  The exchanges between German and Diego at the beginning of the scene expose pent up anger and frustration possibly stemming from the oppressive tactics of the regime. In the second part of the scene, the conversation between Diego and David takes a nurturing turn with Diego emerging as David’s mentor. Diego, therefore, comes across as a supporter of the development of culture in offering to help nurture David’s writing. David, on the other hand, is portrayed as an organic intellectual raised entirely on the revolution (Shaw 22). He is, therefore, found lacking culturally owing to the censorship of Cuban society in the 1960s and 70s.

This scene puts emphasis on rebellion existing due to citizens working hard to evade society’s thought control and the fact they must persevere official censorship. ""But to be replaced with monologue, slogans, and communication-based on dialogues to try to free the demoralized with the instruments of domestication"" (Skidmore 136). In fundamental nature, Skidmore takes on dialogue to change his country, while misinformation from the state only see monologues and statistics as measures that bureaucrats can apply as a way of rebellion in stability.


Works Cited

 Alea, Tomás G. & Carlos J.  Tabío Fresa y chocolate GA80 Accessed 22 March 2017.

Deaver, William O. Fresa y chocolate: A Subtle Critique of the Revolution in Crisis. The Coastal Review, Spring - Summer 2012, Accessed 22 March 2017.

Skidmore, Thomas E. Et al. Modern Latin America. Oxford University Press; 8th edition, 2013, pp. 70-146

Shaw, Deborah. Thomás Gutiérrez Alea's Changing Images of the Revolution: From Memories of Underdevelopment to Strawberry and Chocolate. Continuum publishers, 2003, pp. 9-22

May 04, 2022

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