ABSTRACT

This article revisits the conditions under which Cuba illicitly acquired, exhibited, and responded to Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather films in the 1970s. After a brief ban on new American media imports—considered anti-intellectual in nature and incompatible with revolutionary ideals—following the Revolution, the Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematographic Industry saw fit to exhibit a Hollywood picture under the constraints of the blockade and at the height of the Cold War. To justify this break from the self-imposed boycott of contemporary Hollywood films, Cuban critics endeavored to construct a unified hermeneutics that understood the mafia as a singularly American phenomenon and the Godfather films as a form of immanent critique of capitalism. The purpose of this study is to identify Hollywood film as a persistent site of exchange or discourse between two competing ideologies. Faced with an ongoing blockade and a faltering national film industry, Cuban film criticism resisted the threat of cultural imperialism, nationalizing the limited presence of the American culture industry in the island much as it had other U.S. property a decade prior.

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