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Strawberry & Chocolate (Fresa y Chocolate)
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[Fresa y Chocolate]
(Cuba/Mexico/Spain - 1992)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Theatrical soundtrack: Ultra-Stereo
Used as an unwitting pawn by his pro-revolutionary colleagues, naive student David (Vladmir Cruz) is encouraged to develop a platonic relationship with flamboyant gay artist Diego (Jorge Perugorria), whose political allegiances have fallen under suspicion. But as their friendship deepens, David is transformed by Diego's resistance to the Cuban regime, even as the forces of oppression begin to close around them.
Though based on a short story ('El Lobo, el Bosque y el Hombre Nuevo') by screenwriter Senel Paz which explores opposite ends of a political ideology, knowledge of recent Cuban history isn't a prerequisite for viewers of STRAWBERRY AND CHOCOLATE, a small gem from co-directors Tomas Gutierrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio. Far from a mere political tract, this is a joyous celebration of life and non-conformity, distinguished by Perugorria's extraordinary performance as the camp but dignified Diego, who rejects his friend's unquestioning loyalty to the Cuban political system that is stifling their beloved homeland. Their budding relationship is complicated by Diego's unrequited love for David, depicted here with remarkable honesty and compassion, particularly for a mainstream film.
But it's their political differences which ultimately unite the two characters, even as Diego is forced to reap the whirlwind of his public defiance. Much of the narrative unfolds within Diego's crumbling apartment building, where David enjoys a liaison with flaky neighbor Nancy (Mirta Ibarra), who introduces the inexperienced student to the joys of sexual liberation!Read more ›
Universal themes abound -- acceptance, the development of ethical conduct, finding fulfillment in the bonds forged between unlikely opposites, etc. This film functions both as food and entertainment.
I'll echo disappointment with Miramax' arrogance in arbitrarily editing this film. The awkward edits and transitions you'll experience in this edition are those of Miramax, and not of the filmmakers. What is more, the subtitles are at times inaccurate. Nevertheless, this DVD has the best image quality of any English subtitled edition currently available. An unedited Region2/PAL edition DVD is available from Spain, but apparently without English subtitles.
The full length unedited film is available on VHS in the Colleccion Cine Cubano series from I.C.A.I.C. (Institute of Cuban Cinematography), under the title "Fresa y Chocolate". The picture quality is not as good as the Miramax DVD. The perfect DVD edition of this film is yet to be produced.
I'm glad I paid attention because I found this film to be nothing less than remarkable. The two opposing characters, one a flamboyant gay man with counter-revolutionary ideas and religious to boot is opposed to the young, earnest, militant university student and party loyalist. At first the gay guy comes across as despicable in his openly flagrant attempt to seduce the student. But as the film unfolds he rises above any stereotypes and emerges as a man of enormous dignity. His compassion for his neighbor, the local vigilante, is the first clue to his good heart.
The two men encounter each other with great honesty, (after the initial seduction attempt fails) and their conversations are wonderful. The addition of the female neighbor adds another element to the humanity of the story.
If you're visually oriented you'll love the shots of Diego's amazing apartment! I particularly liked the blue refrigerator whom he affectionately names Otto and scolds when it drips.
The blurbs on the cover have it all wrong. This is a serious, wonderfully intelligent, deeply human film that brings up and examines a number of important issues. Yes it does it in a charming, entertaining way, but this is no lightweight frolic.
It deserves to be more widely acknowledged and seen.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This Cuban movie is very well done and it is interesting to see how daring it is with its criticism of the Cuban government and its gay main character. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Veronica
They have cut important segments of dialogues, the VHS is complete and better.Published 28 days ago by Adriana I. Bertola
The dvd "Strawberry & Chocolate (Bongo films) would NOT PLAY on my DVD player. I was very disappointed with the product. A waste of money.Published 3 months ago by Lee
I do not like the product, and I do wish I had not purchased it.Published 5 months ago by Tower Lowe
wonderful film that still holds it's merit. .
I was recently in Cuba and the apartment that is featured in the film is now a fabulous restaurant.
NOT PLAYABLE ON U.S. VCRS!!!!
I am sure it is a good movie but that is why I rated it as such. Had to send back. No notice on cover of CD when you get it. Read more