This film memorializes the leader of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, on the occasion of his death. It narrates the story of a life which is also the story of a nation—recounting his important accomplishments in the struggle against colonialism and imperialism. The simplicity of his ascetic life of study, work, and struggle is contrasted to the pomp of his official funeral, where the film documents the immense outpouring of grief by the Vietnamese people on the death of their leader.
The film’s most impacting sequence is its outcry against the Vietnam War, where scenes of anti-war protests in the U.S. and battle scenes give way to disturbing images of mutilated Vietnamese children. This famous section comments on violence by not merely portraying it, but by brutalizing the strips of film themselves, bringing the full force of the horrors of war to the screen in a technique which, in characteristically Santiago Alvarez style, is both highly formalist and emotionally persuasive. —mediarights.org
Santiago Álvarez Román (March 18, 1919– May 20, 1998) was a Cuban filmmaker. He wrote and directed many documentaries about Cuban and American culture. His “nervous montage” technique of using “found materials,” such as Hollywood movie clips, cartoons, and photographs, is considered a precursor to the modern video clip.
He studied in the United States but in the mid-1940s returned to Cuba, where he worked as a music archivist in a television station and participated in Communist Party activities.After the Cuban Revolution he became a founding member of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) and directed its weekly Latin American Newsreel.
One of his most famous works, the short Now (1964) about racial discrimination in the USA, mixed news photographs and musical clips featuring singer/actress Lena Horne. Other well-known works included the anti-imperialist satire LBJ (1968) and 79 Springs (1969), a poetic tribute to Ho Chi Minh. In 1968, he collaborated with Octavio Getino and… read more
It's unfortunate that some may avoid this short film out of political principle or speculation that it is only an idolatry piece to Ho Chi Minh. Santiago Alvarez never married music and images as poignantly as he did here. The last five minutes render Godard's Maoist films into de trop cinema. I was overwhelmed.
Also: Nuri Bilge Ceylan will receive this year’s Carrosse d’Or at the 44th Directors’ Fortnight.