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  • Music Makers: Buena Vista Social Club
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Music Makers: Buena Vista Social Club

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Editorial Reviews

Join musician Ry Cooder on a trip to Havana as he gathers some of Cuba's greatest musicians and singers for a climactic concert in New York's Carnegie Hall. 1999/color/105 min/G/fullscreen.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ry Cooder, Joaquim Cooder, Ricahrd Eques, Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubn Gonzlez
  • Directors: Wim Wenders
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Full Screen, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: Spanish, English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (248 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002TVQ4AS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,117 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Great music and very endearing musicians and vocalists.
J. Behar
The film is a social documentary as well as a musical one, giving us hidden glimpses into life in Cuba.
C. Morris
Extras are great, so is the quality of the images and the sound.
Daniel S.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

169 of 172 people found the following review helpful By Mike Baker on December 17, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I could have stayed to watch Buena Vista Social Club all day and all night. The film traces master guitarist Ry Cooder's seemingly endless search for more musical legends to play with, as he takes us to Cuba to meet the masters of "Son" music. The result is a warm, beautiful and touching portrait of the aging "Son" masters emerging from a long hiatus to show us they haven't lost their touch.
Cooder has long sought out masters of "roots" music to learn from and play with. This time he found his way into a diamond mine, and the resulting three albums, "Buena Vista Social Club", "Afro-Cuban All-Stars" and "Introducing Ruben Gonzales" could all have won the 1998 Grammy award, as the former actually did.
The film follows the aging Son musicians around their native Cuba as they prepare for overseas concerts in both Holland and New York City. The city of Havana shows the effects of aging itself, run down and seedy, but, as with the musicians themselves, there is a spirit of unity and inner strength that overrides the worn down facade. That spirit emerges quickly as you see how deeply the Cubans feel their music. You also see a country that preserves the old and makes it work personified in the "antique" automobiles the Cubans use to get around.
Several musicians are featured in the film, but two gain the film's focus, jazz pianist Ruben Gonzales and singer Ibrahim Ferrer, the "Cuban Frank Sinatra". Gonzales no longer has a piano and plays one in a gymnasium reserved for Cuban gymnasts. Ferrer feels the public no longer appreciates his music and is shining shoes to supplement a tiny retirement. Ry Cooder and his son Joachim (sp?
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84 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Eduardo Middleton K. on January 30, 2000
Format: DVD
After all that's been said about the Grammy award winner album by Ry Cooder, I had to watch this superb documentary. They were right, this film deserves, also an award. Reknown musician and singer Ry Cooder sits back as Dream Team coach and lets this long forgotten talents of cuban music tell him naturally their stories, like Ibrahim Ferrer's recording debut at age 72 or Compay Segundo's 90 year old romance intentions. The heartwarming side of this film probably is the chance that this very talented singers and musicians have to fulfill every musician's dream concert: full house attendance at the legendary Carnegie Hall and Amsterdam. They also get to know the Big Apple and display child-like innocence and awe. One of the mayor acheivements of the film is how Wim Wenders blends the cuban studio and city shots with the actual concerts in N.Y. and Amsterdam. This is Not a concert though. All the songs are blended with interviews or Havanna scenaries.The video quality is very good, but don't expect IMAX or so. The sound quality is impecable and there are some extras (a couple of full songs). If you want an experience beyond ethnic music (which is great) but into ethnic discovery (which is grater) buy this gem.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 17, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
When this documentary was being filmed in 1998, the CD which was issued in 1997 had just been released and went on to win a Grammy. It had been the result of American guitarist Roy Cooder's determination to bring the musical sounds of Cuban music to the public. He then brought on the German movie director, Wim Wenders, to capture on film the music, the people and Cuba itself.
The musicians are elderly, their musical skills developed from childhood and they are living memorials to the music they love. Once renowned in Cuba in the 40's and 50's, these men have lived through upheaval and changes in their country, and yet approach life with joy and freshness. The camera picks up the wrinkles, but it also picks up the twinkle in the eye of 91 year old guitarist/singer Compay Segundo who playfully talks about fathering another child to add to his family, or lead singer 70 year-old Ibraham Ferrer's affection for this wife, the 80-year old pianist Ruben Gonzolez who finds it hard to walk, but has no trouble making his fingers fly over the keyboard. Omera Portuando, the lone sultry female, adds an ageless feminine presence to the group.
This is not just a movie about the music. The movie IS the music. And there are long musical sequences which will delight anyone with a serious musical interest. The movie is also about the individual people, whose interviews against the backdrop of a crumbling, but lively Cuba are testaments to the human spirit. Before they were rediscovered for this film, one of the men was shining shoes; another was working in a cigar factory. Politics are never mentioned, but the 1940s and 50s American cars and the disintegrating buildings is evidence of politics gone haywire four decades ago.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
this is literally one of the greatest movies i've ever seen. wim wenders is an excellent, though often overlooked, director who managed to compliment an ideal narrative with pure, optical pleasure. the films storyline reflects perfectly the sensations of the individualls involved. you will leave the film with a feeling of placidity, comfort, and radiant warmth, which one can only find through (or in this case viewing) the endeavors of maximum human achievement. also, the film communicates well the essence of cuban culture, of which american's are usually unaware. if nothing else sells you, just imagine the fun of watching cute, old men who thought the world had forgotten them play their little instruments and light up with life. it's wonderful.
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