With 1968’s radically intimate and formally daring Memories of Underdevelopment, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea achieved what was then an unprecedented level of international attention for a Cuban filmmaker, winning awards in places as far flung as Czechoslovakia and the United States, where the film was initially banned. But the densely layered drama—which combines elliptical editing and subjective camera work to tell the story of a bourgeois intellectual (Sergio Corrieri) who finds himself adrift in postrevolutionary Havana—proved no less of a revelation at home. In the above clip, taken from a supplement on our new edition of Memories, critic José Antonio Évora assesses the outsize impact that the film had on the fledgling Cuban cinema. A cofounder, in 1959, of the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos, the government-run film commission, Gutiérrez Alea showed with Memories—and its restlessly critical and deeply conflicted protagonist, with his pronounced disengagement from the political reality he’s living in—that a film could serve the revolutionary cause not by parroting the state’s party line but rather by calling “everything into question,” as Évora says.
Finding the Life of the Party in Cold Water
Olivier Assayas revived the spirit of the 1970s in one of cinema’s most evocative party sequences, which serves as the centerpiece of his acclaimed 1994 film.
Undressing Souls in Scenes from a Marriage
What does it take for actors to be completely vulnerable with each other? Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson reflect on the close friendship that informed their work in one of Ingmar Bergman’s most ambitious dramas.
A Time Capsule of a Gritty, Long-Gone New York
The director and the star of Smithereens reminisce about how their landmark film immortalized the mean streets and crumbling buildings of 1980s downtown New York.