Memories of Underdevelopment  by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (1986)

Memories of Underdevelopment by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (1986)

The Criterion Collection, the home distribution company dedicated to publishing important classic and contemporary films from around the world in new high-quality editions, has announced two Latino titles as part of its new releases for the month August: the Cuban classic Memorias del subdesarrollo / Memories of Underdevelopment (1968) by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, and Robert M. Young's The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982), a landmark of Chicano cinema.

Memories of Underdevelopment is the most widely renowned work in the history of Cuban cinema, and has been often been named as one of the best Latin American films of all time. After his wife and family flee in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the bourgeois intellectual Sergio (Sergio Corrieri) passes his days wandering Havana in idle reflection, his amorous entanglements and political ambivalence gradually giving way to a mounting sense of alienation.

With this adaptation of an innovative novel by Edmundo Desnoes, Gutiérrez Alea developed a cinematic style as radical as the times he was chronicling, creating a collage of vivid impressions through the use of experimental editing techniques, archival material, and spontaneously shot street scenes. Intimate and densely layered, Memories of Underdevelopment provides a biting indictment of its protagonist’s disengagement and an extraordinary glimpse of life in post-revolutionary Cuba.

In The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, Mexican American farmer Gregorio Cortez sets off in desperate flight forced to run from the Texas Rangers after a heated misunderstanding leads to the death of a lawman, evading a massive manhunt on horseback for days.

Producer-star Edward James Olmos, seeking to shed new light on a historical incident that had been enshrined in a corrido (folk song), enlisted director Young, a longtime practitioner of socially engaged realism, to helm this trailblazing independent film. Shifting its perspective between the pursuers and the pursued, is a thrilling chase film and a nuanced procedural that peels away the layers of prejudice and myth surrounding Cortez, uncovering the true story of an ordinary man persecuted by the law and transfigured by legend.