One thing about having guests from Cuba when you don’t speak Spanish: You can quickly run out of things to talk about after dinner. Naturally, I turned to Netflix.
Netflix has a modest catalog of Spanish films. I thought I did too, but it turns out nearly all my DVDs offer only French and English captions and dialog — not Spanish. What’s up with that? The only movies I had with Spanish subtitles were Ocean’s Eleven and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. They liked the look of Ocean’s Eleven and found it quite entertaining, but politely declined my invitation to view Harry Potter. Apparently the appeal of J.K. Rowling is not universal in Havana.
On Netflix, I happened across the movie Even the Rain (También la lluvia), which concerns a movie crew in Bolivia shooting a picture about Christopher Columbus. The film is about the brutal exploitation of native peoples, and over the course of making it, the filmmakers find themselves complicit in the same sin. The dialog’s in Spanish and the subtitles in English, so it was a movie we could all comprehend.
Bottom line: It’s really pretty good. And the move within the movie, the one about Columbus, is pretty good too. I looked it up later, and find that Even the Rain won a number of awards last year. Just not in North America. It was released in the U.S. last May, and being a Spanish film it promptly sank without a ripple.
The Cubans loved it, though. We did too. A good story is a good story in any language. Thanks to excellent filmmaking, we surmounted the language barrier to find some common ground. Even if you’re not having Spanish-speaking guests over, Even the Rain is a movie you’ll probably enjoy.