Before Night Falls

Before Night Falls

DVD - 2001
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"A look at the life of Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas, from childhood in Cuba to his death in New York City. His writings and homosexuality get him in trouble with Castro's Cuba and he spends two years in prison before leaving for the United States. Victimized by a government that banned his books and jailed him for a crime he didn't commit, [poet] Reinaldo [Arenas] endured unspeakable persecution in a courageous stand against censorship and oppression. Without a country, but not without integrity, he fled to America where he continued to fight for personal expression and produced a stirring body of work."--Container.


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Javier Bardem is outstanding in his role as Cuban author and dissident Reinaldo Arenas. Watch for the surprising appearance of Johnny Depp.

multcolib_spanish May 15, 2014

Película adaptada de la vida del cubano Reinaldo Arenas (Antes que anochezca), quien luchó para escapar la persecución por ser homosexual y dicidente durante la dictadura de Batista. Interpretada por Javier Bardem y filmada en las semi ruinas del ex templo jesuita de San Francisco Javier en Verac... Read More »

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Sep 03, 2018

A very good movie, not great, but very good...worth the time
has content, good story line and the acting was very good...

Jan 03, 2015

Schnabel’s ambitious biopic traces the life of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas from the dire poverty of his early years in Cuba to the dire poverty of his final years in America. Born into a household of “unhappy women”, the young Reinaldo quickly learned to equate having nothing with having absolute freedom. Chastised by his grandfather for writing poetry and seeing no hope for gainful employment in his future, the young writer ran off to join the revolution at the age of fifteen. After Castro came into power Arenas, like his fellow writers, enjoyed a brief revival of the arts before the new government clamped down on certain key freedoms. “People who make art are dangerous to any dictatorship...” states his benefactor at one point, “...artists are escapists and therefore counter-revolutionaries.” Jailed for his defiance of Castro’s regime and harassed for his homosexuality, Reinaldo spent a year in one of Cuba’s most notorious prisons before finally receiving permission to emigrate to the United States, along with Cuba’s other “undesirables”. In the meantime his major oeuvre, written while incarcerated and smuggled out chapter by chapter, won a prestigious literary award in Europe. Schnabel’s film is saturated with brilliant colours and a mesmerizing score composed of classical piano, mellow strings and hot Latin beats. He combines straightforward narrative with languorous passages of visual poetry which takes the viewer from sun-washed beaches to the dimly lit filth of a stone cell to a freezing tenement in New York. Using old newsreels and contemporary Mexican locations, he recreates post-revolutionary Cuba and shows it to be a contradictory mix of kinetic energy and spiritual torpor laced with an edgy sexuality. Being openly gay, it seems, was both an attempt to integrate into the fledgling society and an act of political defiance which was not limited to those living on the fringe as a naked nighttime romp with a cadre of horny soldiers attests. Unfortunately, the last half of the film gets stalled by repetitious scenes and a final coda that seems to go on far longer than it should. Furthermore, although Javier Bardem’s powerhouse performance shines throughout, the bizarre cameos by Sean Penn and Johnny Depp come across as superfluous and gimmicky. Despite its flaws, Before Night Falls remains an honest and respectful tribute.

Jan 02, 2015

The cruelty of Communism is very evident in this movie, how a government can oppress people, and basically bring them to their knees.
I found it quite repulsive to see how they control everything; it's no doubt that people will do anything to flee from Cuba; the tyranny there is unbearable and though they may seem like they're changing, a leopard never changes its spots.

multcolib_spanish May 15, 2014

Película adaptada de la vida del cubano Reinaldo Arenas (Antes que anochezca), quien luchó para escapar la persecución por ser homosexual y dicidente durante la dictadura de Batista. Interpretada por Javier Bardem y filmada en las semi ruinas del ex templo jesuita de San Francisco Javier en Veracruz. Si les gustó la película, ¡lean el libro!

Green_Bird_203 Dec 12, 2013

A break through performance by Javier Bardem.

Quimeras Mar 12, 2013

I believe folks who are passionate about literature and who believe in the power of words will enjoy “Before Night Falls”. It is a wonderful movie, which I have seen more than once. I would, however, have preferred a Spanish language film since I believe this would have added greater authenticity to the plot and characters.

EuSei Jan 12, 2013

We enjoyed this movie very much. The views of Cuba are beautiful; Bardem is perfect in Arenas’ skin. But the most important part of this movie is that it portrays the horrors of the “revolution” brought to Cuba by the two monsters: Fidel Castro and Ernesto Guevara/Carnicero de la Cabaña—the darlings of the left—and how they hated homosexuals. It also shows the sad parts of homosexuality that are nowadays hidden and glamourized. A must see, especially to the ones who idealize communism and homosexuality. NOTICE: Attempts to censor (“Report this”) my comments will be fiercely fought under the aegis of American Libraries’ beloved principles: Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Read, Intellectual Freedom.

Jun 20, 2012

A fascinating story that ought to make any LGBT person reconsider Castro's Cuba post-revolution. It's an artistically engrossing film on so many levels. Director Julian Schnabel paints a fine canvas from the excellent (and also highly-recommended) memoir by Reinaldo Arenas. The extras and commentary are also worthwhile.

lasertravis Jan 25, 2012

Very well acted and at times visually beautiful film that held no real interest for me. I never really cared about the main character or the outcome. Informative film about the struggles of gay men in Cuba and a struggling writer.

Aug 08, 2011

Admitidly I didn't catch all this one but it seems to me you either have to be embracing humanity and individuals plight through it or just plain gay for this one. Didn't care for it much, didn't watch much of it. That which I did see was quality film work.


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