Propaganda is a strange thing. If you recognise something as being propaganda, then it isn't having it's effect. Progaganda, to be effective, must be insidious. So when something is shown to you of which you have no direct experience, how do you know if it's propaganda?
I asked myself that question all through this film. Is this a piece of propaganda? I recently returned from Cuba and found the country fascinating, frustrating and full of paradox. There is poverty, but little despair. There is little to buy, but a guaranteed food ration. So I watched this film with one cynical eye, but I found little to criticise. Silly things - Castro's walkabout in Havana for example. I recognise where he went, and he appears to only walk about 50metres. Big deal. He says there are few prostitutes in Cuba..hmm, maybe we unintentionally went to the red light district but we were offered women everwhere. These are minor things. We met people who love Castro, with tatoos of Fidel and Che on their arms. We met people who simple accepted him at best, and were patirently waiting for him to die in the hope of better things. The same as any country and any country's leader.
This film is like Cuba itself, fascinating and frustrating. Stone asks some very interesting questions, but no really difficult ones. No Jeremy Paxman here, but if you listen to the alternative director's commentary (one of the few on DVD actually worth listening to) the interrogative style wasn't Stone's intention - he wants to get to the man, to talk to the human behind the icon that is Castro.
An absoleutly riveting documentary. Regardless of your politics, or what propaganda you've been conciously or unconciously exposed to, this is a great film.