Documentary about Fidel Castro. How much should we pay for "free" speech? Does personal freedom equate to personal happiness? Is Democracy just another word for rampant, devisive capitalism? If you're at all intrigued by any of these questions then familiarising yourself with the facts of one particular dictator's rise to power should get you musing on your relationship to society and yourself.
“Fidel Castro: The Untold Story” is an apt title for a story of a Cuban laywer turned military freedom-fighter and eventual dictator of Cuba. Having only stepped down from power in 2008, seemingly more from ill health than a true desire for a simple life, Castro wins the award for the 20th century's longest ruling dictator at a scary 49 years. Only the little known Paraguayan military officer Alfredo Stroessner comes a poor second with a mere 35 trips around the sun.
It's intriguing to compare this political journey to our other portrait of a renowned freedom fighter - Nelson Mandela. Two Men who used force and anger to fuel their initial struggles against what they saw as an unjust regime - Apartheid for Mandela, the US Government backed dictator Fulgencio Batista for Castro. And then to see how the men either adjusted their paths to dismantle the ruling power structure or changed their way of thinking.
The relationship between Castro and Che Guevara is also explained - adding a vital component to the image of a man we know all too well from a multitude of T-Shirts and posters around the world. A symbol of left-wing struggle, Guevara was nonetheless a complex and morally grey leader of Castro's brand of justice by the gun.
Of course it is the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 for which which Castro is perhaps best remembered. Here, political hindsight indicates that Castro was not only politically naive - ultimately being used as a pawn by the Soviet Government - but that President Kennedy's hardline tactics redoubled Castro's determination to rally against democracy and American interests, making him arguably more, not less of an enemy.
Fidel Castro, like many a dictator before and no doubt after him, understood the importance of showmanship. Interviewed by a crass US TV host while dressed in his pajamas, Castro stated that "My beard means many things to my country. When we have fulfilled our promise of good government, I will cut my beard."
But as of January 2009, Castro still has his famous beard.