If you want to learn something new today (and with minimal effort), the BBC’s Cuba: Castro vs the World is a solid place to start. Running us through Cuba’s history under revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, the two-part documentary packs a lot in.
The selection of interviewees is superb; we hear from former Cuban spies, men who fought alongside Che Guevara in Bolivia, and anti-Castro fighters, who all provide interesting and new perspectives to a well-known history. However, the series has received some criticism for portraying Castro too kindly, and not showing the brutal realities of his regime. Whether you agree with this or not, you’ll definitely end the two hours more informed and enlightened on Cuba’s complex and tumultuous history.
In the The Guardian, Lucy Mangan calls the documentary, ‘cogent, accessible and – thanks to the superb and superbly-deployed cast of characters – fascinating primer on the subject.’ She also praised the, ‘calm, measured and well-scripted narration,’ which ‘took us through the facts and the interlinked whys and wherefores of Castro’s various undertakings, and the responses from allies and enemies.’ The Times’ James Jackson agrees that the input from the interviewees is welcome, and said that their contribution meant that, ‘even an account of the endlessly retold Cuban missile crisis of 1961 came with surprises.’ In fact, he goes on to say that the story is movie worthy: ‘This is history worthy of a Ken Burns epic, so the only complaint is that it’s just two parts.’ Now there’s a compliment.
Cuba and its amazing history is on the hit list for many travellers, but whilst we’re all stuck at home and avoiding travelling, this might just be the next best option for taking in a chunk of the Cuban story.
First shown August 2020.