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Before Night Falls 2000


Academy Award-winner Javier Bardem stars as the Cuban poet and novelist, Reynaldo Arenas, who was persecuted for his creative beliefs and his homosexuality before finally being allowed to leave Cuba in 1980 .

Olatz López Garmendia, Giovanni Florido
2 hours, 14 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Julian Schnabel
Starring Olatz López Garmendia, Giovanni Florido
Supporting actors Loló Navarro, Batan Silva, Carmen Beato, Cy Schnabel, Olmo Schnabel, Vito Maria Schnabel, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Diego Luna, Lia Chapman, Sean Penn, Jerzy Skolimowski, Aquiles Benites, Ewa Piaskowska, Javier Bardem, Patricia Reyes Spíndola, Michael Wincott, Hector Babenco, Andrea Di Stefano
Studio Warner Bros.
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Westley VINE VOICE on March 8, 2004
Format: DVD
"Before Night Falls" recounts the incredible life of Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas, played with great sensitivity by Spanish actor Javier Bardem. Born a peasant in the 1930's, Arenas had the great misfortune of being a gay writer in a country that considered art and homosexuality to be counter-revolutionary. "Before Night Falls" is based on his memoir and relates his imprisonment in Cuba and subsequent exodus to the United States. Despite this persecution, Arenas' work flourished and was published widely, albeit mostly outside of Cuba.
Director Julian Schnabel is a well-known "neo-expressionist" painter; accordingly, he is able to bring an artist's understanding and sensibility to the story. His prior film was "Basquiat," about the 1980's graffiti artist. Although Schnabel seems to be limiting himself to portraits of artists, the two films are very disparate. Specifically, "Before Night Falls" is much grander in scope and incorporates more directorial flourishes than does "Basquiat." Despite the epic sweep of the film, Schnabel successfully tells Arenas' very personal and heart-rending story. Another major asset of the film is the cinematography and ambiance; vibrant colors and people populate the film. The viewer is transported to 1960s Cuba; you can feel the humidity and the pulse of the Mambo music.
Javier Bardem gives an astonishing performance, for which he deservedly received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor. For the role, he was required to learn Cuban-Spanish as well as English. The DVD extras include a 7 minute interview with Arenas, and it's apparent that Bardem nails the look and speech of the artist, without reverting to a simple impersonation.
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Format: DVD
Based on the memoirs of the late gay Cuban poet/author Reinaldo Arenas, "Before Night Falls" is a lengthy, depressing, yet brutally realistic film on the life Arenas before, during, and after the Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. Starting with his childhood in rural Holguin, Cuba, the film covers every aspect of Arenas' upbringing, his attraction to men, and his run-ins with revolutionary agents as he became one of the island nation's most prominent writers.
Arenas, portrayed excellently by Spanish actor Javier Bardem, sees his life change dramatically, first from what he believes will become a promising age of development after the ruthless Batista regime is toppled by Castro's forces, to later a life of living in fear and hiding as he is blacklisted due to his writings and homosexuality by the new regime's ideological police.
As the film progresses, we see how Arenas deals with the repression of the regime in it's early days, and his persecution for his writings, many that were smuggled out of Cuba by French sympathizers of Arenas's work. Later arrested for a crime that he didn't commit, Arenas finds himself a fugitive living in Cuba, until he is arrested and sent to a Cuban prison before his eventual departure from the island in the Mariel Boatlift of the late 1970's
The film, which is one of the most powerful pieces of filmmaking I have seen in recent years, was directed with style and respect by Julian Schnabel. The film, which is a pioneer to the sense of the many visuals of the male anatomy/body used to illustrate this story of growing up gay in Castro's Cuba might disturb some people who are not accustomed in seeing this on the silver screen and/or gay sexuality. However, this shouldn't be a reason in not seeing this film.
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Format: DVD
Before Night Falls is the second film from painter Julian Schnabel. Much like his first film, Basquiat, Schnabel uses this film to explore the life of another late artist -- the Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. The film follows Arenas for his birth to Cuban peasants, his concurrent discoveries of both homosexuality and poetry during his youth, and his eventual, Hellish imprisonment under Fidel Castro's communist regime. Arenas was eventually sent to America as a part of the Mariel boatlift which later became infamous for being made up of several psychotics and habitual criminals. That Castro also included a large number of gay Cubans amongst this bunch shows the beyond low regard in which gays were held in what many still foolishly consider to be Castro's "enlightened" government. Settling in New York and living in great poverty (but finally with the freedom to be, regardless of his sexuality, acknowledged as a human being), Arenas eventually developed AIDS and killed himself in the early '90s. It doesn't sound like a happy story yet strangely, one cannot help but be inspired by this film. Certainly, the scenes in Cuba are the strongest. Though this is not an explicitly political film and Schnabel is hardly a right-winger, he is still unflinching in portraying how Castro's regime established its power by punishing anyone who dared to display any form of individuality and how homosexuals -- who were hardly on society's A list before Castro came to power -- became a convenient scapegoat. Through prodigous excerpts from Arenas's writings, Schnabel also shows how, under a system where freedom is forbidden, both art and any display of defiant individuality (in this case, Arenas' sexuality) become all the more important.Read more ›
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