TOP TITLE FROM ORIGINAL MILESTONE RELEASE - BOTTOM - NEW ULTIMATE EDITION

(aka "I Am Cuba" )

 

directed by Mikheil Kalatozishvili
Soviet Union/Cuba 1964

 

Few new print re-releases are as welcome as Mikhail Kalatozov’s deliriously impressive 1964 polemical poem of a society on the cusp of transformation. The product of a distinctively Soviet take on the island’s history and aspirations, ‘I Am Cuba’ saw Kalatozov, fresh from Palme d’Or success for ‘The Cranes are Flying’, joined by that film’s cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky and poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko as co-writer. The result is a sensual four-chaptered epic of injustices exposed in Batista’s dictatorial Cuba, elevated by suitably revolutionary camerawork, its confidence a formal expression of faith in the island’s uprising. (Accompanying screenings of ‘making-of’ doc ‘I Am Cuba: the Siberian Mammoth’ reveal the invention at play.) It seems reductive to call this one of cinema’s great ‘lost’ works because this is one of the great films period, taking its place in the canon with urgency since its re-emergence in the 1990s. It’s out on DVD in March but for once the benign order to view it large is mandatory. Cinema’s singular dream, so often betrayed elsewhere, is to deliver such visions as this.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

***

The product of a distinctively Soviet take on the island’s history and aspirations, ‘I Am Cuba’ saw Kalatozov, fresh from Palme d’Or success for ‘The Cranes are Flying’, joined by that film’s cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky and poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko as co-writer.

The result is a sensual four-chaptered epic of injustices exposed in Batista’s dictatorial Cuba, elevated by suitably revolutionary camerawork, its confidence a formal expression of faith in the island’s uprising.

Excerpt from Time Out review located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: March 8, 1995 (USA)

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison: 

Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC vs. New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque (3-disc Ultimate Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC

(Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque (Ultimate Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

Big thanks to Daniel Mott for the Review of the original Milestone DVD!

DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque (Ultimate Edition)

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 2:14:44 2:20:15
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.8 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.49 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate :

 Image Ent.

Bitrate :

 Ultimate Edition

Audio Spanish/Russian/English (Dolby Digital Mono 2.0) Spanish or Russian (Dolby Digital Mono 2.0)
Subtitles English, None (English dialogue not subtitled.) English, None (English dialogue not subtitled.)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: January 18, 2000
Keep-Case

Chapters 33

Release Information:
Studio: Milestone (Ultimate)

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Scorsese interview (26 minutes)

• Trailer

• Stills gallery

Disc 2

• Making of Documentary 'The Siberian mammoth' (1:31;00)

• Yevtushenko interview (9:42)

Disc 3 

• Doc - A Film About Mikhail Kalatozov (1:21:00)

• 16-page liner notes booklet

DVD Release Date: November 20th, 2007
3 slim Keep-Cases inside cigar box

Chapters 36

 

 

Comments:
Right from opening the cigar box custom case and viewing the Cuban version of opening credits you can see that this dual-layered, progressive high-definition transfer (fine grain interpositive) from Milestone/NY'er is heads and tails above the initial release. The screen grabs below don't really do justice to the new Ultimate Edition although there are still some speckles and light marks in the opening but the obvious edge enhancement prevalent in the first release is gone. It is by no means a perfect image but it is significantly improved. 

The Dolby Digital stereo 2.0 optional Spanish track (not available on the original release) sounded very good and it is supported by optional English subtitles (based on the Spanish). You also have a choice of the Russian DUB audio as well as the choice of English subtitles based on that.

NOTE: I had some playback issues with the feature disc on my computer drive (hence my lack of a subtitle capture sample) but it played fine, with subtitles, on my stand-alone machines.

Extras include a 26 minute video interview with Martin Scorsese on disc 1 where he talks of the film's impact on him and such devices as hand-held cameras etc. - sharing disc one is the original Milestone trailer and a stills gallery. On single-layered Disc 2 we have Vicente Ferraz's 2005 award-winning documentary on the making of I AM CUBA running the 1:31:00 entitled THE SIBERIAN MAMMOTH  (in Portuguese, Spanish & Russian with English subtitles.). Also on disc 2 is City Cinematheque's Jerry Carlson interviews screenwriter Yevgeny Yevtushenko (from 2004 - 10 minutes. Color. English dialogue); Disc 3  we have another documentary called A FILM ABOUT MIKHAIL KALATOZOV, a comprehensive investigation on this giant of Russian cinema ( from 2006. 2 hours. Color/B&W with English & Russian and English subtitles). Also some liner notes - I AM CUBA: THE TRUE STORY, a booklet on the making of the film and its history since then.

Product Description: 'A fever dream, a plunging rollercoaster ride, a cinematographer's hallucination, a love song to the power of cinema. Welcome to I AM CUBA, the film rediscovery that has changed filmmaking forever in a ultimate edition! Director Mikhail Kalatozov (
The Cranes are Flying) and cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky's hybrid offspring of Soviet orthodoxy and Cuban tropicalismo is a film of dazzling contrasts. In four intertwining stories of the revolution, Urusevsky's acrobatic camera takes the viewer on a dizzying ride through smoky nightclubs and rooftop pool parties, rickety shantytowns and rustling sugarcane fields, student protest rallies and remote guerilla outposts. I AM CUBA culminates in the most gorgeously filmed funeral procession of all time, as the camera floats through a cigar factory and hovers high above the narrow streets of Havana. A whirling dance through the sensuous decadence of Batista's Cuba, I AM CUBA: THE ULTIMATE EDITION is a cineophile's dream come true.'

I agree. Essential Cinema - strongly recommended!

***

On the original edition: An early DVD from Image Entertainment sporting an "okay" transfer, with varying sharpness, dust, scratches and contrast flickering. Barring a full restoration I guess this might be the best this film will look on DVD. Subtitles are white and very well done, although the English dialogue is not subtitled. A PAL DVD came out in April 3, 2006 also lacking any extras and apparently having some excessive edge enhancement and grain. Not having seen that transfer, I do recommend the Image Entertainment DVD for this historically important film.

 - Daniel Mott

 

Ultimate Package

 



DVD Menus

(Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque (Ultimate Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)
 

 

 

Disc 2 - Ultimate Edition

 

 

Disc 3 - Ultimate Edition

 


Screen Captures

 

(Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque (Ultimate Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque (Ultimate Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque (Ultimate Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque (Ultimate Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 


More caps from the Ultimate Edition

 

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque (Ultimate Edition)

Region 1 - NTSC


 




 

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