Hailed as one of – if not the most – sophisticated films ever to come out of Cuba, Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias Del Subdesarollo) is visionary Cuban director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s tour de force. Now, thanks to Mr Bongo Films, the film is set to arrive in a stunningly restored version on UK Blu-ray for the first time.
Listed at number fifty-four on Derek Malcolm’s 100 Greatest Movies, this cinematic masterpiece has been fully restored using the original camera and sound negative by Cineteca di Bologna with a vintage duplicate provided by the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos. This international initiative to save the film from decay was funded by The George Lucas Family Foundation and the Martin Scorsese-chaired World Cinema Project, founded to provide a resource for those countries lacking archival and technical facilities. Memories of Underdevelopment makes its Blu-ray debut on 20 February 2017.
Memories of Underdevelopment follows Sergio (Sergio Corrieri – Soy Cuba), through his life, following the departure of his wife, parents and friends in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Alone in a brave new world, Sergio observes the constant threat of foreign invasion, before meeting Elena (Daisy Granados), a young woman he seeks to mould into the image of his ex-wife, but at what cost to himself?
Even though director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea was a staunch and devoted supporter of the revolution, Memories of Underdevelopment offers a raw and uncompromising analysis of the newly formed system of government. Through a moving blend of narrative fiction, still photography and rare documentary footage, Alea catalogues the intricacies of the early days of the Castro regime; producing a stirring and enigmatic work that feeds off the culture of the very subject it is studying: Cuba.
One of the early landmark films of post-revolutionary Cuban cinema, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea said of his 1968 opus: ‘Every day, to build our society, we have to confront the type of people we despise…I hope with my film, to annoy, provoke, and upset all of them.’