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the lost city andy garcia

How Andy Garcia Turned his ’05 Film ‘The Lost City’ into a Love Song to Cuba

The must-watch film serves as a perfect guide to understanding how the communist rule was forged in Cuba, which led to the deadly consequences that millions of Cubans currently face

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On January 1, 2022, it will be 63 years since the triumph of Fidel Castro’s communist revolution in Cuba, which meant the defeat of all trace of freedom and hope for the Cuban people. The Lost City (2005), directed by and starring Andy Garcia, is an excellent film to understand how the communist regime was forged in Cuba and the disastrous consequences it brought, both for the island and for the rest of the countries in its area of influence.

The Lost City tells the story of the communist revolution in Cuba through the saga of Francisco Fellove (Andy Garcia) and his family. This intimate story actually contains an allegory of how socialism is capable of even destroying the strongest family ties and loyalties and, by extension, the entire social structure. 

The script is signed by the illustrious Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante from his exile in Great Britain, and who gave the first draft to Andy García back in 1990—when the actor was beginning to establish himself after his roles in The Untouchables and The Godfather Part III—but the film took 16 years to be released. It took so long that Guillermo Cabrera Infante only got to see the initial cut of The Lost City a few months before his death in February 2005.

This delay was not due to the filming -which only took 35 days- but to the financing problems faced by Andy García, who was turned away by Hollywood and had to seek money from alternative sources, outside the industry’s usual circuit. Once again, it is demonstrated that any film that questions the leftist narrative is not to the liking of a Hollywood that has surrendered to the arms of the Marxist ideal.

The specialized critics -a fundamental part of this progressive plot- rushed to trash The Lost City with peculiar excuses such as its long and slow running time, the rigidity of its dialogues and the alleged excessive sentimentalism of the protagonists’ love story, although it seems evident these criticisms usually disguise the real reasons that cause displeasure to the scholars of the Seventh Art.

Beyond the fact that the film in general runs counter to the leftist narrative of a heroic revolution, why Hollywood hates The Lost City can be boiled down to two specific reasons. One is that far from depicting Che Guevara as a fearless hero and liberator—as usual—it shows him as the psychopathic, bloodthirsty criminal he really was, lacking compassion and a sense of honor.

The other thing they do not forgive The Lost City for is that it clearly shows that the socialist doctrine was not born from the common people, but was the invention and excuse of the upper-middle-class elite of intellectuals imbued with arrogance of believing they could dictate how others should live.

The Lost City, the history of Cuba through the Fellove Family

The affluent Fellove family synthesizes the different ways in which individuals and social agents of the time dealt with the communist threat: The father, a university professor who opposed the revolution from his academic ivory tower, but in a sterile way. The older brother, played by Andy Garcia, who, being at odds with Batista dictatorship, thought he could conciliate and coexist with the new regime -as he had done with the previous one- while discreetly and successfully managing his cabaret, a jewel of Havana’s nightlife and show business.

The middle brother, who used his wealth and social position to fight the right-wing dictatorship from the shadows through terrorist actions of Directorio Revolucionario, thus paving the way for the 26th of July Movement, the army commanded by Fidel Castro, which was joined by the Fellove’s younger brother, and that would end up taking the capital from its military sanctuary in Sierra Maestra.

Through these subtle analogies, The Lost City manages to say what no one dares: Fidel Castro and his henchmen were not poor and marginalized bearded men thrown into the bush with a democratic ideal, but sons of the upper-middle class who saw in communism the ideal vehicle to seize power and impose their design.

There are two other fundamental characters to finish outlining the message Andy García and Guillermo Cabrera Infante tried to convey with The Lost City. One is the comedian played by the incomparable Bill Murray, who is actually Cabrera Infante writing to himself as a silent witness about everything that was happening, but that every time he opened his mouth he did so to make a visionary and devastating criticism of what was to come in the form of a humorous comment.

And, above all, the character of Inés Sastre, Aurora Fellove, wife of the Felloves’ middle brother, who was always Andy García’s impossible love. First for being his brother’s wife, and later for becoming the “Widow of the Revolution”, used for propaganda purposes as a beautiful face behind which the miseries of the new dictatorship were hidden.

She represents Cuba, and the whole film is a love letter to Cuba by Andy Garcia although given the importance of music in the film, it could be more a love song, a song about an unbreakable but impossible love, which Andy Garcia had to renounce and leave behind to flee to Miami in search of freedom. A mutual love doomed to failure because of her naive support for the revolution, being unable to see that those who truly love Cuba are the exiled, and not the satraps who have been dominating it for the last six decades.

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