The Lost City,
an Andy Garcia
|The Lost City is actor/director
Andy Garcia's bittersweet lyric celebration of Cuban culture
that took him 16 years to make. Using music, literature and
dance, City captures Havana in full tropical bloom during the
Where Buena Vista Social Club commemorated an era of Cuban music
before it slipped away, City captures the moment where performers
like Beny More electrified audiences with that rhythm, a rhythm
that made Havana the Pearl of the Antilles.
Scripted by Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante, whom critic
David Thomson likened to Jorge-Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia
Marques, City builds like a vivid tropical fever-dream; a love
story and revolution set to music.
Centered in El Tropico, a nightclub roughly modeled after Havana's
famous Tropicana, proprietor Fico Fellove tries to hold his
family and club together as the dictator Batista's reign of
terror comes crashing down around him. Ultimately, to survive,
Fico must leave everything he loves.
I was asked, "How long have you been pursuing the dream
of making this movie?" I thought for a moment and answered,
"I guess it started the day I left Havana, when I was five-and-a-half
years old," Andy García said.
since then I have been fascinated by the history, culture and
music of Cuba, 'The Pearl of the Antilles.' I knew a great story
was waiting to be told," Garcia added.
of music and stories later, I was introduced to a novel by the
great Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera-Infante, entitled Tres
Tristes Tigres. It introduced me to Havana: the city and all
the textures it had to offer, specifically the nightlife. And
most important, the music of that world: Beny More, Cachao,
Bola de Niece, Septet Nacional de Ignacio Punier, Or Questa
Aragon, Celia Cruz, Lacuna and of course Freddy. It was in this
world that I knew I had found the voice," Garcia said.
"Mr. Infante and I spoke many hours. The story became
a tapestry of many elements: family drama, love story, the revolution,
dance and principally, the music. Music is our protagonist;
it drives our story and it is represented by Fico. I always
considered it to be the main character in the film," Andy
City is every immigrant's story-a paean to lost culture. It's
a time and place in history that still lives vividly in the
imagination of the exile. And as conjured by Infante and Garcia,
this is a land where rhythm can't be exiled. You can leave the
country, but the rhythm will never leave you.
Along with its original score, City sings with 40 different
songs. Mambos, chachachas, rumbas, toques, danzones, boleros.
Together they create an oral history of Cuba. They are love
songs to an indomitable culture-a culture that reveals itself
in music, but also in dance, in poetry, in Catholicism, in African
and European heritages, in Revolution, in tobacco, in Santeria
and the azure sky and water that surround the island.
City opens and closes on the figure of the white-suited trumpet
player, Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, who was Cuban
legend Beny More's bandleader. But more importantly, just before
the re-appearance of "Chocolate," as Fico watches
old home movies of Cuba, we hear a voice-over poem from Jose
Marti, the great 19th century Cuban poet and statesman. Marti
is the quintessence of Cuba, a figure embraced by both the political
left and right. He led the original fight for Cuba's independence
against Spain and gave his life for the cause.
© CONTACTO Magazine
Published on April 15, 2006
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