Martí in Cuban Cinema


As part of the many acts commemorating the 160th anniversary of the birth of José Martí, Rafael Lam (Cubanow) highlights the importance of a documentary by Enrique J. Crucet, La ruta de Martí.

This year, we are remembering the 160th anniversary of the birth of José Martí, and [. . .] on May 19, the 123 years since his demise in the battle of Dos Ríos. We want to mention a 1946 documentary by painter and filmmaker Enrique J. Crucet, who wanted to show, in all its splendor, the most significant sites in the journey followed by “the Apostle” since his landing on Cuban land. Crucet accompanied the instruction travel column of the Cadet School led by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Bilbatúa Sanz on a 400-kilometer expedition.

La ruta de Martí, or Siguiendo la ruta de Martí, was created in 16 mm and in color to follow, step-by-step, the journey of Martí and his followers, having joined the Mambisa troops of the War of Independence, from the arrival of the expedition in Playita de Cajobao, on April 11, 1895, until his final day on May 19, 1895. This idea was quite clever; the new generations always want to know about the vicissitudes our heroes went through, and to learn more about the trajectory of a man who is more than a myth, but rather, a life.

Fortunately, Crucet had experience from World War I, where he had to dodge bullets and cannonballs during his military life. That is why he was able to produce and photograph the documentary in forty minutes. For the project, they had to follow the details of José Martí’s Diario de campaña [Campaign Diary]. The initial objective of this documentary was to serve for the instruction of the students in the Military Academy, to promote a Cinematographic Library for educational purposes.

Crucet had plans for short musical pieces: La Habana de ayer y hoy [Havana yesterday and today] and Es mi Cuba un paraíso [My Cuba is a paradise], with music by Rosendo Ruiz Suárez and Eusebio Delfín. But to make a musical comedy is expensive and complicated.

Martí is a Cuban figure of universal projection—a person who went beyond the borders of the era in which he lived to become the greatest Hispanic political thinker of the nineteenth century; everything that can be gleaned about his life, his work, and his thought will always be worthy of attention. The path traveled by Martí in this last battle as well as the struggles leading to his death must be shown so that young generations may understand the greatness of the father of the Cuban Revolution. [. . .]

[Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For full, original article, see]

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