Lucia (1968)

The other major Cuban film from 1968, Lucia is a film in three parts, set in three periods, made in three styles to boot. This 1970s interview with director Humberto Solas sums up his approach, and I may as well just quote him directly therefrom: “women are traditionally the number-one victims in all social confrontations. … Because they are traditionally assigned to a submissive role, woman have suffered more from society’s contradictions and are thus more sensitive to them and more hungry for change. From this perspective, I feel that the female character has a great deal of dramatic potential through which I can express the entire social phenomenon I want to portray. This is a very personal and a very practical position. It has nothing to do with feminism per se.” The female characters here are three women, each called Lucia, each of them situated at various major points of Cuban history (the war of 1895, the fall of the Machado dictatorship in the 1930s, the aftermath of the revolution); the first story probably grabbed me the least, being copped somewhat from Visconti’s Senso and prone to melodramatics. Probably liked the second one best, this Lucia marries a revolutionary and winds up participating in a riot while he’s having a gun battle with cops elsewhere, but once the shooting is over and Machado’s crumbled he becomes disillusioned with the classic “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” situation that results. I wonder if there’s an at least implied critique of the later revolution buried in this story (or am I just reading it that way); certainly the last story turns on the notion that a revolution in politics won’t necessarily engender a revolution in Neanderthal macho attitudes towards mistreating women. A fairly long slog at 159 minutes, and variable across that length, but pretty good on the whole, though Solas is probably right to distance his approach from feminism, since actual feminists would likely consider the film patronising at best for having committed the sin of being directed by a man…

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