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Buena Vista Social Club

Buena Vista Social Club

3.8 6
Director: Wim Wenders, Ry Cooder, Compay Segundo, Rubén González

Cast: Wim Wenders, Ry Cooder, Compay Segundo, Rubén González


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Wim Wenders' documentary Buena Vista Social Club is about the adventures of Ry Cooder in Cuba. Cooder, best remembered by film fans for the wailing slide guitar theme of Wenders' Paris, Texas, went to Cuba in 1996 to meet with some legendary 'soneros' musicians of the '30s, '40s and '50s. The result was the album Buena Vista Social Club, recorded


Wim Wenders' documentary Buena Vista Social Club is about the adventures of Ry Cooder in Cuba. Cooder, best remembered by film fans for the wailing slide guitar theme of Wenders' Paris, Texas, went to Cuba in 1996 to meet with some legendary 'soneros' musicians of the '30s, '40s and '50s. The result was the album Buena Vista Social Club, recorded with such colorful characters as the 90-year-old singer/guitarist Compay Segundo, guitarist Eliades Ochoa, baritone Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo, "the Cuban Edith Piaf." The album won a Grammy, and in this refreshing documentary, Wim Wenders shows these exceptional musicians in their hometown, following them into their usual hang-outs -- the cafes, clubs and even living rooms -- as well as to concerts in Amsterdam and New York's Carnegie Hall, capturing their incredible vitality. "In Cuba, music flows like a river," according to Ry Cooder, who adds "Music is like a treasure hunt; you dig and dig and sometimes find something." Pursuing this metaphor, Wenders wanted to make a film that would "just float on this river ... not interfering with it, just drifting along." The result is a film full of vitality and positive energy, which is also an absolute delight to musical ears.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Mark Schwartz
In the skillful hands of visionary director Wim Wenders (WINGS OF DESIRE), this touching documentary about the Cuban musical phenomenon known as the Buena Vista Social Club becomes a moving meditation on the passage of time. Wenders brings an impressive restraint to his telling of this rags-to-riches story, a simple tale enhanced by the gorgeously muted scenery of Havana's romantic ruin and its glorious music. Two events frame the Buena Vista Social Club's rise from obscurity to senior-citizen superstardom -- club master of ceremonies Ry Cooder's return to Havana in 1998 to record vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer's solo album and the gang's heart-stopping performance at Carnegie Hall. We see the physical decay of the men and their city as we hear, through lively interviews with nearly every member of the large ensemble, about the glory of Cuba and her musicians of a half century before, when mambo and son filled hotel salons and casino ballrooms. But when these aged masters burst into song -- Compay Segundo's baritone ringing out, Rúben González's rich piano soloing, Omara Portuondo's tearful dueting with Ferrer on "Dos Gardenias" -- music erases the ravages of time, old men become animated as children, and a forgotten world lives again, glowing around the edges like a dream.
All Movie Guide
One of the most critically acclaimed and commercially popular documentaries of its time, Buena Vista Social Club is a loving tribute by filmmaker Wim Wenders and musician Ry Cooder to the surviving members of a forgotten golden age of Cuban music. Shot on digital video and presented in a straightforward manner, the movie beautifully interweaves profiles of the principal musicians with footage of them playing at recording sessions and at 1998 concerts in Amsterdam (Le Carre) and New York City (Carnegie Hall). The music is fantastic, and, for those unfamiliar with this musical genre, a revelation. Each of the principals is given a chance to show off, with memorable sequences devoted to singer Ibrahim Ferrer, pianist Ruben Gonzalez, laud player Barbarito Torres, and nonagenarian guitarist Compay Segundo. But it is just as interesting to see these old-timers taking the filmmakers -- and audience -- on a tour through the streets of Havana, telling their stories and looking back on their lives. Buena Vista Social Club probably would have been just as successful had it been merely a filmed record of the various performances, but the interviews give the film an extra character, revealing layers to the artists that a simple concert picture never could. Also evident throughout is the respect that Wenders and Cooder hold for their subject, and Wenders provides a revealing peak into contemporary Cuban life. The ecstatic response to Buena Vista Social Clubmay have been a bit overenthusiastic -- this is not groundbreaking documentary filmmaking -- but the subject matter is so compelling and the music so enduring that it is easy to see why it seduced audiences around the world.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
Region Code:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Audio commentary featuring director Wim Wnders; Deleted scenes; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ry Cooder Actor
Compay Segundo Actor
Rubén González Participant
Ibrahim Ferrer Actor
Eliades Ochoa Actor
Omara Portuondo Actor
Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal Actor
Orlando Lopez "Cachaito" Actor
Barbarito Torres Actor
Manuel "Puntillita" Licea Actor
Raul Planes Actor
Felix Valoy Actor
Ricahrd Eques Actor
Maceo Rodriguez Actor
Joaquim Cooder Actor
Pio Levya Actor

Technical Credits
Wim Wenders Director
Rosa Bosch Associate Producer
Buena Vista Social Club Score Composer
Ry Cooder Producer
Ulrich Felsberg Executive Producer
Nick Gold Executive Producer
Brian Johnson Editor
Walter Mueller Sound/Sound Designer
Robby Müller Cinematographer
Deepak Nayar Producer
Lisa Rinzler Cinematographer
Joerg Widmer Cinematographer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Music Makers: Buena Vista Social Club
1. Buena Vista Social Club [1:40]
2. Searching For the Old Club [3:24]
3. Le Carre, Amsterdam [3:59]
4. Omara and Ibrahim's Duet [5:43]
5. Ibrahim Ferrer's Story [2:37]
6. "Dos Gardenias" [1:39]
7. Omara Portuondo [3:09]
8. Compay Segundo [1:38]
9. Compay & Ry's Jam Session [2:54]
10. Eliades Ochoa [3:51]
11. Ibrahim's Family History [3:37]
12. Cuban Life [4:42]
13. Ruben Gonzalez [6:42]
14. Ruben Goes to Havana [3:26]
15. Vices [1:16]
16. Forming the Club [3:46]
17. Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez [5:07]
18. Amadito Valdes [1:04]
19. Manuel Mirabel Vazquez [1:55]
20. Barbaro Alberto Torees Delgado [4:55]
21. Pio Leyva and Manuel Licea [2:39]
22. Recording Studio [4:39]
23. How it Got Started [3:22]
24. Carnegie Hall [2:50]
25. Visiting New York [3:09]
26. Piano Melody [5:27]
27. Such a Beautiful City [2:23]
28. Still Making Music [2:42]
29. Back to Cuba [1:29]
30. End Credits [4:24]


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Buena Vista Social Club 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was moved by the impact and shear energy of this documentary and would recommend it to anyone who is cuban or non-spanish who has interest in cuban music. It was a sensational experience and a beautiful film to watch. It almost feels as if you were there with them. I loved how the musicians were individually interviewed. You get to hear who they are and how they became musicians. You know something, if my parents hadn't left Cuba in 1969, I would have met these amazing musicians, especially Ruben Gonzalez ''my favorite''. Got to listen to ''Quizas Quizas'' off of ''Chanchullo''. I was five at the time we left Cuba. My dad said to me that Buena Vista is a suburb slightly outside of Havana, Cuba. It's where the best musicians on the island jammed and we didn't live far from there. This film is a keeper. Thanks Ry Cooder for this film!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thorough yet leaves asking for more
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I heard the music of the Buena Vista Social Club, I fell in love with Cuban music all over again. Ibrahim Ferrer, Eliades Ochoa, Compay Segundo, Puntillita, Ruben Gonzalez and the other great musicians brought back to life a culture that had been forgotten for so many years. Ry Cooder was instrumental in reviving this lost music, and along with Wem Wenders tried to capture the images of a hidden past, in the production of the Buena Vista Social Club. After reading an article by John Child and David Barton, when they interviewed Alfredo Valdes, Jr. ''Son of Buena Vista'', I was confused as to the disapproval and mixed feelings Mr. Valdes had with the resurgence of the music from Buena Vista, especially the recent Buena Vista musical productions by Ry Cooder. That was until I saw the video production for the first time. Aside from its marginal artistic value, the production was weak and did not contain significant content. At best the production seemed to be an exploitation of a lost Cuban culture. Despite the fact that Ry Cooder and director Wim Wenders have had previous success in other endeavors, this production of the Buena Vista Social Club, obviously exposed the ignorance of these ''outsiders''. They failed to recognize and document on film the true suffering of these people, and why it was that they have been forgotten for so long. Instead of capturing the music and its history on film, Cooder and Wenders captured the images of poverty, isolation, oppression, and exploitation. Does this production have any value? Very little, but buy the music CD's instead and avoid feeling sad and sick to your stomach for what these Outsiders captured on film.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago