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Ireland, 2013, 75 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Biographical, Historical/Period, Psychological, War
Program: DocumentaryLanguage: English, Russian, Spanish English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: John Murray, Emer Reynolds
Producer: John Murray, Siobhan WardEditor: Emer ReynoldsCinematographer: Kate McCullough
“A nation that forgets its past has no future.”—Winston Churchill
That Americans know more about the Kardashians than about the Cuban Missile Crisis is a sad state of affairs. Why do we choose to shun history? Nuclear weapons are more numerous now than during the crisis, and owned by even more “hostile” nations. Apocalyptic science-fiction films have perhaps desensitized us to the concept of the end of the world, but in October 1962, Armageddon was a very real possibility. And until this technology is eradicated, it could be again.
Directors John Murray and Emer Reynolds walk a fine line between documentary and thriller; archival footage intercut with shots of modern-day Havana, Moscow, and Washington erases the distance between then and now. We see the threat through the eyes of the past, and understand the existential fear of nuclear war. John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, and Fidel Castro are presented as real people, not just names in a history book. Murray and Reynolds interview key surviving U.S. and Russian figures from the crisis as they make painfully clear that “at key moments in history, personality makes a difference”; that we are all, at the end of the day, men; and that “there is no room for error with a nuclear weapon.” Here Was Cuba is a chilling, thought-provoking film that will make you pay closer attention to contemporary world politics and how we got here. History does not happen by chance.
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