Sprawling canvas to Alea's intimate inquiry, Humberto Solás' political-personal epic locates the characters posed on the shifting historical tectonics -- the structure, accordingly, is Griffith's, minus montage. As with Memories of Underdevelopment, it could be called I Am Cuba, the camera no less impressionistic than Kalatozishvili's, "Despierten, Cubanos!" howled by raggedy wretches to heated, handheld scampering as a bunch of corseted society gals gossip and flutter inside. The period is 1895, the first epoch up for analysis in the triptych, each segment pondering national upheaval through a troubled feminine perspective. Colonial-times Lucía (Raquel Revuelta) is a Jennifer Jones aristo in love with brooder Eduardo Moure during the war with Spain; a furtive meeting in the sugar mill segues into betrayal, the heroine left in her Brontë gown amid galloping tumult and stabbing madness, The Magnificent Ambersons landing in the muddy battlefield of Chimes at Midnight. Lucía in 1932 (Eslinda Núñez) is a high-society swan bumping into Ramón Brito, a sensitive guerilla rebel, at a summer resort; she abandons her rarefied class to join his gang of revolutionaries, who interrupt tawdry wriggling shows for the cops, tommy guns a-blasting. "Abajo Machado" scribbled on walls and street demonstrations, but the revolt is a bourgeois one, and the dictator's fall only leads back to Havana-as-Babylon through fish-eye lens. Lucía No. 3 (Adela Legrá) is a happy prole, as befits the here-and-now tag of "196...," high on sexual holiday while climbing in the back of a truck to toil on the fields. Batista is down, the revolution is in full swing, and marriage to Adolfo Llauradó is ecstatic, though progress comes to different areas at different speeds, and macho-man Llauradó indulges in a bit of domestic oppression by locking Lucía at home, windows boarded up. Keeping in with the previous episodes, Solás induces titanic shouting matches for fortissimo catalysts, the better to shatter the programmed complacency in emerging consciousness -- insanity, death, and finally education, each a move toward a new awareness, thus freedom, even if in the end still locked into the push-pull of cultural contradictions. With Idalia Anreus, Silvia Planas, Flora Lauten, Rogelio Blain, Maria Elena Molinet, and Aramís Delgado. In black and white.
--- Fernando F. Croce