LUCIA

Cuba

1969

Director: Humberto Solás
Production Co.: I.C.A.I.C.
Screenplay: Humberto Solás, Julia Garcia Espinosa & Nelson Rodriguez, from a story by Solás
Cinematography: Jorge Herrera
Editor: Nelson Rodriguez
Art Direction: Pedro Garcia Espinosa & Roberto Miqueli
Music: Lea Hrouwer & Joseito Fernandez
Song: 'Guantanamera' by Joseito Fernandez
Costumes: Maria Elena Molinet
Sound: Eugenio Vesa, Carlos Fernandez & Ricardo Istueta
Lucia 1895: Raquel Revuelta
Lucia 1932: Eslinda Nuñez
Lucia 196-: Adela Legra
Rafael: Eduardo Moure
Aldo: Ramon Brito
Tomas: Adolfo Llauradn
Idalia Anreus
Herminia Sandrez
Silvia Planas
Flora Lauten
Maria Elena Molinet
Rogelio Blain
Tete Vergara
Flavio Calderin
Aramis Delgado
Ingrid Gonzalez
Fernando Bermudez
Isabel Moreno
161 minutes
16 mm
Black & White
Spanish, with English subtitles
R16 Certificate
 
Easily the finest film to come out of Cuba in the 60s, Solas' powerful triptych depicts three stages in his country's - and his countrywomen's - struggle for liberation. Using a different idiom and visual style for each era (high-contrast melodrama for the 1890s, nostalgic irony for the 1930s, carnival slapstick for the 1960s), he manages, without any political simplifications, to bring the historical process palpably, and humanly, to life. The film was way ahead of its time in linking sexual and political oppression: interest stays focused on the three heroines, but part of that interest lies in the extent to which they take their political colour from the men they love. Free from dogmatic orthodoxy, the film also observes how contradictions and imperialist emotions survive even the best-programmed revolutions. In an upbeat ending, the struggle is seen to continue.
- The Time Out Film Guide, London, 1994
 
To describe Lucia as a masterpiece seems almost to belittle it, since visually it is not one film but three. Each of its episodes treats a difference stage in Cuba's struggle for liberation, both from without and from within, and each is filmed in a style appropriate to the period it describes. Emotionally most powerful, if hardest on the eyes, the first chapter uses a hysterically dancing camera and some harsh exposures to establish a savage, romantic symphony of extreme contrasts and melodramatic emotions. Sewing delicate sheets for soldiers, the neurotically giggling spinsters (observed with an eye midway between Cukor's and Bergman's) flutter nervously around the heavy baroque furniture in demure white dresses which ironically connote their sentence to a lifetime of chastity; while in the deserted streets below, beggar women and brigands stand out like ominous black silhouettes from the surrounding grey. Despite the heavily operatic style, the charactersí emotions are precisely observed - indeed the style itself - introduced only after the arrival of Rafael - becomes a measure of the imperialist's cruelty, so painfully is it calculated to elicit a response from his repressed victim. (Repression throughout the film equals oppression, and scenes of prayer in home and church discreetly apportion some of the blame to the Catholic faith).
For his second episode, Solás shifts from harshly contrasting blacks and whites to a subdued range of grey half-tones which unobtrusively reflect the difficulty of choosing between what will prove to be too equally corrupt alternatives. On two occasions - the riots and massacres which follow the dictator's overthrow, and the Felliniesque orgy which reflects the degeneration of the victorious idealists - an unmuted black and frenziedly moving camera is again allowed to predominate, but this second chapter is at its strongest in registering, partly through the exquisite performance of Eslinda Nuñez, the languid melancholy that - even in Havana - underlies so much of the Flapper Era's surface activity. The period with all its fads and uncertainties, is evoked with a perfect naturalism: and only through the heroine's transformation from bourgeois belle to black-clad worker do we get a glimpse of the arduous road through which independence must be achieved.
The film's final episode is set after the Revolution, and it's a measure of the country's good-humoured self-criticism that Solas can show Cuba's problems to be far from over. Imperial attitudes still beat in many a good, card-carrying breast, and collective pressure and the slow process of education are shown as the only means of combating male and other chauvinisms. Though the transitions from tragedy to irony to farce reflect an optimistic analysis of Cuba's revolutionary progress, audiences in the West at least may well find that Solás has slightly undermined his own orthodoxy with the simplistically extroverted characters who turn his final episode into a kind of carnival exorcism. But the film closes with the face of a serene and solemn child (a glimpse of the future and perhaps the next Lucia); and wherever it will ultimately be placed in the political spectrum, it must surely survive, both as a monument of virtuoso filmmaking and as a model of how to tell a collective history in recognisably human terms.
- Jan Dawson, Monthly Film Bulletin, 12/72
 
Lucia is so brilliant that it ranks with the best ever made in Latin America. It no doubt will be considered the seminal document of any Cuban woman's liberation movement. The film is a trilogy, each segment documenting a woman's role during various struggles for liberation. The longest and by far the best episode is the first. Raquel Revuelta is magnificent as the lonely spinster who falls in love with a dashing Spanish educated Cuban who turns out to be a spy. He uses her to find a rebel stronghold and the rebels, despite a stirring machete charge by a troop of naked horsemen, are slaughtered. Nearly as good is the final episode, a droll contemporary tale about a jealous husband's opposition to the handsome instructor who is trying to teach his wife to read and write. Lovely Adela Legra is saucy in the role of the overly-protected young wife.
- Arthur Cooper, Newsweek, 4/72