943 Memories of Underdevelopment

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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FrauBlucher
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943 Memories of Underdevelopment

#1 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:42 am

Memories of Underdevelopment

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This film by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea is the most widely renowned work in the history of Cuban cinema. After his wife and family flee in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the bourgeois intellectual Sergio (Sergio Corrieri) passes his days wandering Havana in idle reflection, his amorous entanglements and political ambivalence gradually giving way to a mounting sense of alienation. With this adaptation of an innovative novel by Edmundo Desnoes, Gutiérrez Alea developed a cinematic style as radical as the times he was chronicling, creating a collage of vivid impressions through the use of experimental editing techniques, archival material, and spontaneously shot street scenes. Intimate and densely layered, Memories of Underdevelopment provides a biting indictment of its protagonist's disengagement and an extraordinary glimpse of life in postrevolutionary Cuba.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interviews with film critics B. Ruby Rich and José Antonio Évora
• New interview with novelist and screenwriter Edmundo Desnoes
Titón: From Havana to "Guantanamera," a 2008 feature-length documentary on director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's life and career
• Segment from a 1989 audio interview with Gutiérrez Alea
• Segments from 2017 interviews with actor Daisy Granados and editor Nelson Rodríguez from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Visual History Collection archives
• Trailer
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by author Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

DeParis
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Re: Forthcoming: Memories of Underdevelopment

#2 Post by DeParis » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:39 pm

FrauBlucher wrote:I may be jumping the gun, as this could be part of another World Cinema Project.

I saw this yesterday. What an excellent film. Circa 1967/1968 this has all the earmarks of the French new wave and a touch of Bunuel. Tomás Gutiérrez Alea does a wonderfull job merging historical newsreel footage with a fictional narrative. A very interesting look inside Cuba in this transitional period of their history.

And it's a very strong restoration.
Very exciting to hear that Memories of Underdevelopment is getting an upcoming release, whether as part of the WCP or as a standalone release.

I saw this maybe 7-8 years ago in a world cinema class I took in college. I actually wasn't that taken with it the first time I saw it, but I rewatched again for a writing project and ended up really enthralled by it. The film does have something of a French New Wave aesthetic, and it features the sort of archetypally intellectual and alienated protagonist you might expect to pop up in a Godard or Antonioni film. What sets the film in more of a Third Cinema tradition is that Alea takes a politically critical stance towards his protagonist's self-isolation and disaffection, suggesting that it is the protagonist's unwillingness/inability to integrate into a newly diverse society that creates his alienation, rather then implicating external societal factors. I probably need to see the film again before writing more about it, but I hope anyone interested in 60s cinema gives it a look.

Another Cuban film I saw in that world cinema class, Sara Gomez's "De Cierta Manera", is also a wonderful film that similarly mixes a dramatic narrative with documentary footage. Alea was actually involved in finishing the shooting on that film due to Gomez's premature death. I hope that's a title that eventually ends up getting a restoration with the WCP, since as far as I know it's never had a wide commercial release in the US and the print I saw wasn't in great shape.

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knives
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Re: 943 Memories of Underdevelopment

#3 Post by knives » Tue May 15, 2018 4:25 pm

Color me very excited. This is probably the best of TGA's dramatic movies (though there is still a decent amount of comedy) with a very exciting use of space. I'm definitely excited to revisit it and hope it is a sign of more to come.

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Re: 943 Memories of Underdevelopment

#4 Post by FrauBlucher » Tue May 15, 2018 4:34 pm

Yeah, very excited for this. Saw this at the beginning of the year when the 4k was touring. Love it. Has a french new wave feel. The whole package looks like a great edition.

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L.A.
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Re: 943 Memories of Underdevelopment

#5 Post by L.A. » Tue May 15, 2018 5:43 pm

From Alea I have seen The Twelve Chairs and The Last Supper and both are excellent films and would fit nicely to Criterion’s catalogue. This one is unfamiliar so it shall be the third I’m going to watch from the director.
Last edited by L.A. on Tue May 15, 2018 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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knives
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Re: 943 Memories of Underdevelopment

#6 Post by knives » Tue May 15, 2018 6:01 pm

It's very different from those two, though that just highlights what a multifaceted talent he was.

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Hopscotch
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Re: 943 Memories of Underdevelopment

#7 Post by Hopscotch » Tue May 15, 2018 10:08 pm

I was blessed to have an undergrad world film history prof screen this in class maybe nine years ago. Can't remember how it went over but it's lingered in my mind more than hundreds of movies I've seen since. Looking forward to revisiting it.

Rupert Pupkin
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Re: 943 Memories of Underdevelopment

#8 Post by Rupert Pupkin » Wed May 16, 2018 9:56 pm

I have seen this movie years ago thus I'm really curious to see it again, restored, especially with the bonus which will help me to put this movie into the historical perspective, because I remember like I was like the character of the movie - I was a bit lost- I read in books about Cuba. I remember how I was fascinate by the editing (sometimes the camera moves like in Soy Cuba- I mean : diving (I remember the scene where he met Elena in the streets (the camera is almost flying above the stairs...), but I was much more thinking about French nouvelle vague movies, especially Godard's first movies)...
SpoilerShow
the end of the movie - for some reason sI don't totally understand why - made me think about the unreal and strange end of Antonioni "L'Eclipse"....
could you please refresh my memory ? speaking of French cinema, the character is fetishizing like me about Brigitte Bardot. I remember a scene where he buy a magazine with a photo of B.B. and put the torned page, slided into a crystal flower vase.
Then there's a scene with several excerpts of movie - one his a bed scene with Bardot. It will difficult for you with "bed scene" as a description to find which movie it could have been (clue: it's not le Mépris or Dieu créa la femme; certainly a following of Vadim movies...) ? do you remember which one it was ? (I could be wrong but I think that there's a scene of Bunuel "The Exterminating Angel")

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