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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > History > Propaganda > Assassination > Communism > Socialism > Stalinism > Che Guevara – Where You’d Never Imagine Him + Moments With Fidel (Paths To Revolution series/First Run Features) + 638 Ways To Kill Castro (BCI Eclipse)

Che Guevara – Where You’d Never Imagine Him + Moments With Fidel (Paths To Revolution series/First Run Features) + 638 Ways To Kill Castro (BCI Eclipse)


Picture: C/C/C+     Sound: C/C/C+     Extras: C+/C+/B-     Main Program: C+/C+/B+



As either a historical record or some vein continuance of Socialism, Communism and Stalinism, First Run Features has issued both Che Guevara – Where You’d Never Imagine Him and Moments With Fidel in a new DVD series dubbed Paths To Revolution.  With that particular revolution done and failed, you can see why in the shallow, condescending and even brainwashing stance of both works telling us what a couple of great guys the main subjects are.


You know you are in for it as soon as you hear that kind of stupidity, but the manipulations are more obvious than ever in an Internet society.  Note in the Che piece how the struggle extends to running a printing press.  Nothing like playing on people’s misery and being sly in both its nationalism and even racism, only serious Hispanic heterosexuals who know “how it really is” exist, including how Che and/or Fidel made the world a better place to live.  Che did not live long enough to expose himself as the failure he would be, though he is making many people money with unlicensed, hip t-shirts of him as if his face equaled individuality or some other revolution.  Bet most wearing the shirt are clueless as to who he was.


As for Castro, he has hung on and his health was in serious decline as of this posting.  No matter what happens to Cuba, the Soviet Union is long gone and even if the Kremlin rises again, it will never be the same.  Since we know all the horrible things Castro did do, you can see this dark cult of personality take shape in this work and wonder why no one killed him.


That brings us to the hysterical and impressive 638 Ways To Kill Castro, a hilarious and highly informative piece on how many times they tried to kill the famed leader and how wacky some of the attempts really were.  So wacky that Avengers creator Brian Clemens once said that when their show become grand and wild, they had to compete with poisoned boot polish and the like, so these attempts have been well known since The Cuban Missile Crisis.


Though Clemens is not interviewed, the makers found more than a few key people willing to go on camera.  It is a great record of how espionage does and does not work, but that the U.S. saw the U.S.S.R. collapse before the Castro regime is an amazing story in itself.  Castro’s brother, also frail, intends to continue things as they are if he can make it.  That some Cuban Americans see the previous dictatorship as a better alternative to Castro calls for another documentary.



The letterboxed 1.66 X 1 image on the Paths discs are weak, though it reminded me of how Maoist types could care less about picture and sound quality, as you can see in Godard’s cycle of such films.  If that is their trademark, degraded digital images have supplanted that by-default agit-prop, a style not used in the older propaganda works.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 has plenty of stock footage and new interviews, professionally and nicely edited.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is mono on the Paths DVDs and somewhat stereo on 638.  The best playback goes to the best program.


Extras include bonus films, often shorts, on the Paths releases.  Che includes the 1981 A Photo That Travels Around The World (13 minutes) about Cuban photographer Alberto “Korda” Gutierrez and that picture now on all those t-shirts, Among The Legends (1988/28 minutes) interviewing Che’s fellow guerillas, October 1967 (1988/32 minutes) continuing the theme of the last battle before he was killed and Hanoi (1967/35 minutes) celebrating North Vietnam taking on the U.S. in what is the most interesting of the four pieces.


Fidel includes My Brother Fidel (1977/17 minutes) is about a then 92-year-old who is a Cuban hero from an event in 1895!  We also get The First Delegate (1975/26 minutes) about the first congress of the Communist Party in Cuba held the year of the production which continues the feel of the 1964 classic I Am Cuba and Condemn Me, It Does Not Matter (1982/125 minutes) about The Moncada Assault in 1963 that helped establish the dictator.  The month and day are included as if they were the most important history ever.


638 includes over 70 minutes of interviews, all the way to President Jimmy Carter, also including Republican Congresswoman Ilena Ros-Lentien, Cuban-American politician Otto Reich, Director Dollan Cannell, Tom Parrott of the CIA, JFK aide Richard Goodwin and a section on the 1976 Cubana airline atrocity and Luis Posada Carriles.  With all the discs, you’ll certainly see things you will not see anywhere else, but 638 Ways To Kill Castro is the one must-see.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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