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Customer Review

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film Beyond Words & Music (6 stars if I could give it!), 27 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Buena Vista Social Club [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
It would be difficult not to be moved by this truly excellent film.

A group of world class musicians who have been rescued from obscurity by the tenacity of Juan de Marcos González (Afro-Cuban All Stars) and Ry Cooder are given the showcase they deserve. If you have little experience of Cuban Music this DVD is a great introduction as you can see how it works and the characters behind the sound. There is a selection of different styles from the relaxed, intimate love songs of bolero and danzón, to Son, through to the driving celebrations of mambo and rumba.

But don't just buy the DVD for musical ability (though that is outstanding). There is a passion in these musicians that goes far beyond musical ability. Some, such as Rubén González emerge from retirement and Ibrahim Ferrer is encouraged back into singing after working on the streets for more than 10 years. But when these forgotten Cuban legends are united in Egrem Studios, Havana, a spark ignites which is fanned into a flame and ultimately an inferno.

This is also a film about life, hardship, values and ultimately, about a fairy tale ending as they find global recognition through their recordings to perform in Amsterdam and their ultimate 'jewel in the crown', Carnegie Hall, New York in July 1998.

Many of these stars have now sadly passed away, including the recent loss of bass player Orlando 'Cachaíto' López (Feb 2009), but they leave a legecy that has sparked new interest in Cuban music. Wim Wenders' filming is sensitive and provides a real canvas on which to draw the characters. American guitar great Ry Cooder appears throughout the film and it is clear from the footage that he holds these men and women of history in great esteem, which is clearly reciprocated througout the 100 minutes.

This DVD is a gift at the price.

Oh! And if you're easily moved, have a box of tissues ready: the impact of sharing in their joy and in the appreciation of the crowds who witnessed their performances may just overwhelm you.
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