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Lecture

FILM 1701 Lecture Notes - Class Consciousness, Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro


Department
Film
Course Code
FILM 1701
Professor
Michael Zryd

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Week 17: Cuban Cinema and Radical Cinema
1960S LEFT POLITICS
1960s: many colonial nations in Africa and elsewhere achieve independence
-rise of political radicalism and counterculture in USA and Europe
-anti-authoritarian politics rises in Eastern Europe and Soviet bloc
=>social change, resistance to authority (whether that authority is seen as colonial, bourgeois, or
Communist)
In the West: politics of radicalism vs reformism
-bourgeois capitalism permeates political, social, and psychological dimensions
-“the personal is political”
late 1960s
-USA: rise of New Left, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), anti-Vietnam demonstrations,
campus protest, Black Power, Women’s Liberation, Stonewall (gay liberation)
-Europe: radical Left student politics and counterculture movements
“May 1968" - violent repression of student protests in Paris (also Spain, Germany, UK, Japan,
USA)
-in May, half a million students and workers marched in France, forcing gov’t to reopen
university
-10 million go on strike in support of student protest and occupation of Sorbonne
-Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut close Cannes Film Festival
-radical film collectives formed in France and Europe
-de Gaulle’s gov’t threatened, but wins June elections
Week 17: Cuban Cinema and Radical Cinema
Left Ideological Critique
IDEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE
Importance of “class consciousness”: understanding of how capitalism ensures divisions of rich
and poor by dividing poor classes, Collective interests are deemphasized in favour of individual
interests
“False consciousness” – those who are suckered by IDEOLOGY
IDEOLOGY: a set of values that is assumed and unexamined
Bourgeois culture is based on ideology as ILLUSION (of freedom, of political power, of social
mobility)
crucial mechanism of illusion: MASS MEDIA, including film
Radical politics must not only change structures of society, it must change our ability to have
CONSCIOUSNESS of society
importance of PERCEPTION and RATIONAL THOUGHT
RADICAL ART will tear away illusions, allow us to have consciousness of reality
therefore, rejection of formula, and rejection of surface reality
Radical film attempts to make spectator think critically and rationally
FILM: revealed as an artificial representational system
Most radical art will draw attention to Form to battle illusion (e.g., Godard)
Week 17: Cuban Cinema and Radical Cinema
Cuban Cinema
CUBAN CINEMA
Seen as successful socialist revolution, popular and successful in bringing economic equality,
and basic services like literacy and health care to all citizens
Dedicated to social justice, social equality, redistribution of wealth, freedom (more constrained)
Fidel Castro led revolution vs Batista in 1958
Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC): vital and experimental film producer, highly influential in Latin
America and other Third Cinema makers
-interested in European art cinema traditions, documentary, and experimental film
-syncretic: “fusion of elements of the symbolic languages of clashing cultures”
Memories of Underdevelopment
Ironic relation to idea of “underdevelopment,” a relative term in comparison to presumed
superiority of “developed” nations. Underdevelopment characterized by fragmentation,
inconsistency, energy (appropriated as positive qualities)
Story of Sergio, a man divided in his sympathies between the goals of the Cuban Revolution and
his individualism (and desire to belong to a “developed” European culture
-paralysis: cannot join in revolution, even as the nation prepares, at the end of the film, during
the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962
-film emphasizes the importance of ACTION
Alea, “Aristotle and Brecht: Identification and Distanciation”