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4.4 out of 5 stars
Looking for Fidel
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on September 5, 2013
Great video. Gives you a more personal look at Fidel Castro for those that would like to understand the history of Cuba.
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on May 12, 2012
The leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, was 76 years old and had been in power almost half a century when Oliver Stone sat down with him for the 2003 interview that forms the core of this documentary. Stone also talks to activists, spouses of jailed journalists and even the mother of an executed hijacker to provide this clear-eyed view of Cuba following the 2003 crackdown on dissidents. Fidel Castro speaks out on why Cuba has dealt so harshly with those it considers a threat, most of them dissidents or folks hijacking planes or boats, most of them getting 20 years to life sentences for crimes that may have gotten them no time to no more than 2-3 years in the US. "Looking for Fidel" includes provocative conversations between Stone and Castro in which the Cuban leader offers his views about the state of the world, President Bush, the war in Iraq and other major international issues. But at the end, it is obvious to the average man that Fidel is an ironfisted tyrant who can tolerate no criticism!
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on June 17, 2017
Became aware of this excellent documentary in the course of watching the recent Putin Interviews, also conducted by Oliver Stone, who is a fellow Vietnam war veteran that I admire very much. The truth is that seeing an aged Fidel Castro respond to often repeated accusations of his alleged tyranny, subsequent to the abrupt collapse of the Soviet Union, his principal patron, I felt a genuine sense of admiration for his courage of conviction, and defiant spirit. This was not a young man, who stood firmly, and articulately, in opposition to a belligerent Bush regime, here in the United States.

Whether, or not, you agree with Marxist theory, or the Cuban government, you have to admire those who stood up to a thoroughly corrupt, and criminally inspired, Batista regime, and in many ways, have improved the lives of generations of ,many Cubans, albeit, at the expense of the former upper classes, which fled to the United States, and continue to hate the Castro revolution. Obviously, wealthy capitalists, like the Bush family, detested defiant revolutionaries, like Fidel Castro, and feared that his movement could spread to other nations, and markets, thereby threatening their own socioeconomic positions.

This film is particularly relevant, today, as devout capitalist, Donald Trump, enacts renewed policies hostile to the present Cuban government.
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on February 17, 2016
The movie is a fantastic documentary I am actually impress with Oliver Stone because for me even when he have more understanding of Latin American politics than most Americans for latin american people Oliver Stone is pretty confused. But he ask great questions, Fidel respond very well too. Fidel as usual responded about his human right record talking about American hypocrisy. But even when I am agree that US have also a very poor human right record that do not explain the Cuban record. Latin Americans are horrified about US dead penalties in their judicial system but have no problem with the Cuban dead penalty records. Which are faster to apply, once you are sentence are not appeals and you are execute three days after trial and not only just for horrific crimes, you can get executed for drug trafficking, or in the case of this movie for hijacking.
Anyway is always good see another perspective of Fidel Castro other of what Americans have access in US media
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on February 27, 2015
This film while slightly dated at 12 years of age and with some of the recent changes in US Cuba relations, is still a fascinating look at Castro as an older man. Here in discussions with Oliver Stone he ruminates on the state of US and Cuban relations, speaks to dissidents and walks the streets of Havana being greeted by ordinary Cubans. Clearly he is portraying himself as a thoughtful, philosophical elder statesman although Stone drops in historical footage of the younger more robust Fidel giving speeches and leading the revolution. Is Stone the most objective interviewer - probably not, but he's not a total propagandist either and he does challenge Fidel with some provocative questions.
Admittedly dated but with the rising interest in Cuba given the recent changes in US policy, it is a film very much worth revisiting.
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on September 16, 2011
The start of this video is really boring, with Oliver Stone pressing Fidel Castro on human rights issues, and evaluating him through a wholly American perspective.

But at the end of the movie, which I guess one could call a documentary, Stone loosens up, and actually seems to realize that he is in a foreign country, even though the USA has done its utmost to deny Cubans the god-given right to autonomy.

What I learned from watching the video:

Cubans flee Cuba for Florida for strictly economic reasons.

Fidel can walk the streets of Havana (or anywhere else in Cuba) without a million body guards, bullet-proof plexi-glass, and a cordon of navy seals for protection. U.S. politicians can't.

Of course there is no freedom of speech in Cuba. If there were, the revolution would be doomed, as America is waiting for the first sign of weakness in order to pounce.

Access to health services and education in Cuba is pretty much universal. So what if the Cuban people don't have flat screen TV's, mobile phones, and Gucci handbags. You don't need those in order to survive.

Many Cubans love their leader. We just hear about the ones that don't.

Finally, of the utmost significance. Many of the Cubans interviewed in this moview were single fathers. Now, any country that encourages its people to have smaller families is alright by me.

And probably the best part of the movie is at the end, where Castro and Stone are up on a bluff, overlooking Havana harbor and smiling. Castro points and says, "That's where US warships will come in, should we ever let down our guard," or some such thing. (Not sure exactly what he said, as I was listening to Spanish and reading Korean, as I couldn't hear the English for the simultaneous translation.) And then Castro adds again, "One thing about the Americans that really makes it hard to deal with them is they don't accept anything but unconditional surrender. Complete surrender is all they will accept."

Four stars. Check it out.
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on January 2, 2013
I guess that I see this film a little differently than most. I was kind of aware that the US was run by militant tyrants, and did not think that Fidel was nearly as bad as we have been led to believe. One reviewer comments that the film starts off slow, but what Stone does is question Fidel from the point of view of the average American. This was not Oliver's first time with Fidel, and he knew what he was doing. It is brilliant.

I read things all of the time about the terrible Cuba, the tyrant Fidel, and of course the "you don't understand the real" Che Guevara. I have been reading and watching things on Cuba, and the rest of Latin America, and while I knew that we were bad to our neighbors to the south, I did not realize how to blame we are. Fidel is more clear headed than any leader the US has seen...maybe ever. The Founding Fathers had some real thinkers, but recently it has been a CF of ideology based around failed systems of social and political organization. We are doing our best to prove that democracy doesn't work in the US, and we have been trying to unseat Fidel, because he proves that our system is not the best.

Those who represent the people of this country have made multiple attempts on this man's life, because he isn't scared to do what is right for the people of his country. If you read about the Cuban Revolution, it is clear that Fidel and Che did the only thing that they could do to overthrow a regime, which didn't care about the people as a whole, but only a small elite...usually those who were complicit with American exploitation. Say what you will about their tactics, but they tried the election thing before Batista staged his coup. It didn't work, so they had to try another way. The strategy of Fidel and Che during the Revolution are amazing. They had zero room for error, and they beat an army. The won the hearts and minds of the people, and they have been fighting the same outside pressures for decades. We can look at this movie and see the relatively small number of people who appear to be unhappy, and then we see the crowds cheering for Fidel. He has no Secret Service...that is profound when you see the outrageous amount of security that the "leader of the free world" needs anytime they go into public.

Cuba has put up with more from the US Government than just about anybody. The US has been trying to undo what Fidel did for the people of Cuba since the Eisenhower Administration. We as Americans get a bad story...we look like fools to many of other people around the world for believing in our own self-made image. Fidel and Chavez are two leaders who show that it is hard to usurp Socialism, and that is because of the society that it creates. When the people who we don't give a chance in this country get that chance, they take it. These countries want to stand on their own, but we won't let them. If they were not having to dedicate so many resources to fighting back CIA funded attacks and coups, they would have shown that capitalism isn't all that it is cracked up to be, but capitalism prefers to do business at the barrel of a gun.

For all the American foreign policy debates, and they centering around the theories of realism and liberalism (Wilsonianism) we are sure quick to judge people like Fidel and Che as hardened radicals, despite the fact US corporate interests were exploiting their people and...oh yeah...trying to kill them. We are fine with total overreaction, which is not what the revolutionaries did. They did not carpet bomb, or kill innocent civilians with remote control planes. There were people that died, but that was because of overreaching US interests that were raping the people of that land of their resources with Batista in office...who really was a brutal dictator, just the kind of guy the US supports. US support of Batista was tepid, at best, because he was slaughtering his own citizens, and Fidel was smart enough to get some good US press early on, but they were backing other groups who would have kowtowed to their demands for the luxury of power.

Politics is a dirty game, and to exist as a government that is truly for the people of the nation is risky business. The US has the most guns by far, and they prefer to deal with authoritarian leaders, who are cheap to buy off. Fidel wasn't one of those, and if you don't get that out of this film, don't stop researching. Listening to the words of the Cuban revolutionaries is an interesting thing. Then read some history and see whose words, Cuban or American, the facts line up with. Fidel has always been honest with his people, and has attempted to do the right thing, while we tried to disrupt it. This is important as we enter into a time that we have no faith in our system, but we contend it is the best...our leaders are incapable of solving problems, and yet we keep waiting for them to do it, and resort to snarky commentary when they don't.

If you watch this and don't feel for Fidel, you need to do some more digging. We are too quick to paint leaders as good and evil, and we presuppose that everybody that isn't in our immediate social circles must be two dimensional. People are all very complex, and Fidel is very complex. He does nothing by accident, and will be remembered as one of the greatest politicians of all time. That is if we are able to realize that we are inhabiting the only rock that we have discovered that could sustain life as we know it, and stop destroying it and each other. Fidel understands this...why don't we?
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on September 30, 2012
I just saw this on iTunes. I've always liked Fidel and even more so now. Good for Stone for directing this. The beginning concerning the issue of dissidents (which is actually the main issue of the movie but luckily there were other focuses like Fidel himself) is a bit long but Fidel is such an interesting and straight to the point man not avoiding any questions of Stone unlike most politicians and giving very reasonable, intelligent and logical answers, it makes up for the less interesting issues. It's too bad it did not go more commercial (but I am not surprised as it would make the American goverment look less reasonable on how they've treated the Cubans) because it's a movie many need to see to truly understand what Cuba is like and why and what other problems other greater powers have caused for this poor country. I wish there were more candid movies like this and I hope Fidel lives on. He has not done a worse job than most that is for sure and this movie shows how he understands what needs to be done with the limited powers he has.
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on October 22, 2011
My experience with Fidel Castro until now has just been viewing footage of him shouting in spanish on a podium. For me, I didn't even care about the politics, I was just hoping to gain insight into the mind of a dictator. It was interesting to hear Castro speak and see how he behaves, but I ended up wishing Oliver Stone was more of a psychologist then a politician because I still think there is more to learn as far as that goes.

I at least learned that Castro is just a man after all. He seems to be a very intelligent, well-intentioned tyrant. In a lot of ways he has a grandfather tone about himself and does not at all seem like the menacing man I have been lead to believe he was. Stone probes Castro about retirement and relinquishing his position but Castro would have none of it.

I also got to experience bizarre sideways close-ups of Castro's beard and index finger. Yeah, the camera angles in this film were strange.

As far as the politics go, I am not sure what I was supposed to learn from all this. If I am to believe that Cuba is a good place to live because all children have to go to school and have health care then I am not buying it. Those are all good things but clearly Castro will not tolerate dissidents. In this film we were presented with an interview with a handful of prisoners accused of hijacking planes in an attempt to leave the country in the wake of 9/11. They argued that they should be sentenced to 30 years in prison instead of sentenced for life. Stone remarks that he would have asked for 5 years with parole, which seemed a bit more reasonable...

The prisoners stated that the only reason to leave was "economic reasons". Freedom of speech and political freedoms were not an issue for them. I am sure that is true, even if the prisoners were saying that with Castro's eye squarely placed upon them as they spoke, but there are clearly other reasons to leave. I don't believe it's just the embargo that is hurting Cuba, if that is what I was meant to conclude? In a surprising show of empathy though, Castro acknowledged that he understands the desire to buy cars, provide for your family, and watch baseball games. And then proceeds to allow the system to sentence them to 30 years in prison... Castro asks, if it was your responsibility, what would you do to prevent a wave of hijackings? Letting people leave on their own free will apparently was not an option.

The end of the film was most promising because we got to see Castro gaze upon his country from afar and lament on technology and the changing ways of the world. Unfortunately Stone interrupts all this to get back into politics. I say unfortunately because we were starting to see Castro as he really is: an old man trying as hard as the rest of us to understand the world. Castro's final remarks that the US would only accept complete surrender did indicate that the United States is as much a problem for Cuba as communism and Castro himself. I did end up walking away from this film wishing the US would help the Cuban people instead of playing silly political games.
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on May 5, 2015
Its nice to see and hear some truth finally, after growing up in Miami, we were all brainwashed down there to think Fidel was the bad guy, while drugs and crime were being sold by our gov't agencies to kids everywhere.
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