Pretty much agree with everything roujin and pix said about all the influences. Especially the comparison to Hiroshima Mon Amour – especially the idea of being haunted by the past and grappling with figuring out one’s identity and role in the present – seems equally true for Sergio as well as for Cuba as a whole.
I too was constantly intrigued about why Sergio didn’t leave even though he seems so critical of Cuba and Cubans and so eager to distance himself from them. Like pix, I didn’t buy his argument about wanting to stay to see what happens. All through the film, I just got this sense that he was just so prone to inaction. Like he fancies himself politically engaged but doesn’t seem to do anything really. Similarly, he thinks of himself as an intellectual and a writer (I think?) but doesn’t seem to create anything himself or even try to. Yeah, mostly just sitting around or wandering listening to the stuff he recorded with his wife or wandering around aimlessly, watching girls and trying to bed them.
In general, I felt as if even he’s not certain of his reasons for staying.. that they are changing throughout the movie or something. I don’t know… I need to think about this more to be able to come up with specific scenes that made me feel this way.
I loved the mixing of what I thought was news footage (is that what it is) every once in a while (right at the start and then again with the footage on the trial of the army officers at Playa Giron and then stuff about the missile crisis towards the end). I thought of the footage in the middle where we actually hear from people who were a part of the revolution as a sort of counterpoint to Sergio’s own monologues and possibly even a criticism of Sergio for not being willing to actually take any action to bring about change. Also loved the fast cut footage of scenes removed from various films during the Batista-regime.
I did not find Sergio to be a tragic hero at all. Actually, I liked the film a lot despite the fact that I found very little to like about the central protagonist. He is too passive and patronizing and criticizes without seeming to offer any solutions and most importantly, does not seem to be a victim at all of all the stuff he’s criticizing. It was amusing to me that he one of his peeves about the people of Cuba is that they are indecisive and immature.
I also liked the parallel between Sergio’s attitude towards Elena as a stand-in for his views on Cuba as a whole. He would prefer Elena to be more sophisticated and European but then concludes that he won’t be able to change her and subsequently loses interest.
I hate the fact that my post does not at all convey all of the fun stuff in the movie with the editing and the flirting and so on. Thankfully, pix and roujin have done a far better job with all that.