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Benigno, Farewell to a Revolution

 
Benigno, Farewell to a Revolution

(Benigno, Afscheid Van Een Revolutie) Director: Marlou van den Berge, NIZ, 2005, original version / Czech subtitles, 55 min

Marlou van den Berge's documentary is a portrayal of Daniel Alarcón, alias Benigno, the benevolent , a man who began life as an illiterate farmer, became a national hero and is now an anonymous exile looking for work in Paris. Benigno joined the Cuban revolutionaries in the late 1950s, after the army had torched his farm and murdered his wife, and fought alongside Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Once Castro had taken control of Cuba, he was declared a major national hero. His fame was such that a television soap opera was modelled on his life. Meanwhile, Alacrón began to realize that he had become nothing more than a mute passive instrument in the hands of a revered leader. He thus decided to leave Cuba and live in Paris. Today he is but one of a crowd, but has the freedom to express his own opinion. This original and engaging film about gradually sobering up from intoxicating ideals is a collage of interviews with the aging man, commentaries on his life, archival footage and excerpts from the TV soap built around his life, underscored by a very strong visual approach which turns bare facts into artistic meditation. By intertwining the film's various components, the Dutch director creates a documentary about ideals and betrayals, the contrasts between a dictatorial regime and a free Europe, about Cuba and its upheavals, the life of a notorious dictator and the fortunes of an ordinary person who's led a rich life and whose soul is richer still.


 

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