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||IMDB Rating: 7.6/10 from AL votes
||Release: 28 October 1999 (Netherlands) /
||Genre: Documentary, Music, Musical
||Director: Wim Wenders,
||Stars: Amadito Valdés, Barbarito Torres, Compay Segundo, Eliades Ochoa, Ibrahim Ferrer, Joachim Cooder, Juan de Marcos González, Manuel 'Guajiro' Mirabal, Manuel 'Puntillita' Licea, Omara Portuondo, Orlando 'Cachaíto' López, Pío Leyva, Rubén González, Ry Cooder
||Synopsis: A group of legendary Cuban musicians, some as old as their nineties, were brought together by Ry Cooder to record a CD. In this film, we see and hear some of the songs being recorded in Havana. There is also footage from concerts in Amsterdam and New York City's Carnegie Hall. In addition, many of the individual musicians talk about their lives in Cuba and about how they got started in music. Written by George S. Davis
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This is a top class film in so many ways.
To start with, there is the amazing backdrop of dilapidated old Havana,
which Wenders admittedly got for free. Nevertheless, he pulls out shots
which are so luminous and well constructed that they make you gasp, and all
done on a digital betacam! This makes BVSC one of the few documentaries I
have ever seen which must be seen on the big screen to be fully
Although I've never been to Havana, it also appeared to me that Wenders
have judged well in his balance by showing Havana as a poor broken down
and not just a place full of '50s cars, grand old buildings and omnipresent
The stars of the film are the old folks, of course. In some ways, the
of the film is not music - this could have been a film about people from
field. Instead, this is simply a record of what people have to say looking
back on experiences from their lives which we can never
Perhaps there was a slight temptation at editing stage to steer the film
towards certain themes. There was without a doubt rather a lot of places
where the intended conclusion of the audience seemed to be "wow - old men
can be cheeky... and they still have libidos!", but maybe only they can say
whether the men themselves consider the film to be a fair reflection of the
whole of their personalities, and I doubt we will ever find
Two points about the musical side. First, I continue to worry about Ry
Cooder and his son Joaquim. Do they really need to be there? Ferrer and
the old timers all kept tight lipped about Ry's slide guitar, NOT, I
a prerequisite instrument of the average Cuban "son" band, and dare I say
it, distractingly awful in at least one place in the film. Can't comment
much about Joaquim's style when playing the drums, but there must surely be
some 50-90 year old cuban drummer cursing his luck that he isn't in on the
party thanks to Cooder Jr.?
Second, what do Ferrer et al think about the music they are making now?
does it compare to how they considered they performed in decades gone by?
Might they freely admit (as I suspect, honest and carefree as they clearly
are) that they are reproducing now something which they did a lot better
when they were younger? The question was never asked.
It's a tough point to make, but the average "son" singer does not I imagine
consider at the outset of his career that he will only be hitting his peak
in his eighth or ninth decade! If they do admit to having had a golden
period in the past, why did Wenders not let us see footage of some of that.
I doubt if any but a few of his audience have any knowledge of the Cuban
music of the 40s and 50s so as to judge with any accuracy what merit there
is in the music they are creating today. And without that, the risk is
the players are being cheered not for their musical skills but merely as
museum pieces and for the fact that they are capable of doing it at their
age at all. I had the slightly uneasy feeling by the end of the film that
Wenders might have excluded old footage on the basis that it would show up
the modern recordings as something less than the genre at its
You should go and see it and then tell me why I am wrong on those points,
which hardly dent my rating for this as a definite 9+!
Tags for Buena Vista Social Club Full Movie
, Barbarito Torres
, Compay Segundo
, Eliades Ochoa
, Ibrahim Ferrer
, Joachim Cooder
, Juan de Marcos González
, Manuel 'Guajiro' Mirabal
, Manuel 'Puntillita' Licea
, Omara Portuondo
, Orlando 'Cachaíto' López
, Pío Leyva
, Rubén González
, Ry Cooder
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