At a time when Americans might be sympathetic to lifting the economic embargo on Cuba, when the public memory of its origin as a response to Fidel Castro's theft of the properties and businesses of American corporations is fading, documentarian Estela Bravo and husband Ernesto expertly put together a presentation of the Cuban dictator that is more a campaign tract to that cause than a probing discussion of his commandeering tactics.

Starting with footage of Castro's childhood and early manhood, some of which is new and fascinating, Bravo puts together a highlight reel that includes his earliest political alliances and adventures, his escape to the Maestra Sierra mountains where he gathered a guerilla force with Che Guevara at his side and, in 1959, his emergence in victory against the U.S. backed, armed, and trained Batista army. This is the stuff of legend but, unfortunately, as history (but not this film) informs us, this undisputed leader's promise of deliverance from tyrannical dictatorship merely morphed into his own brand of despotic, repressive rule.

Continue reading: Fidel (2001) Review