Buena Vista Social Club: AdiosCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Buena Vista Social Club: Adios is the sequel to Wim Wenders’s award-winning 1999 documentary. Lucy Walker’s epilogue serves as a conclusion and contextual setting to the first film, focusing predominately on the musicians’ roots and their infinitely jubilant outlook, despite the perils of racism and poverty they encountered along their musical career. Walker highlights the historical context to Buena Vista Social Club’s debut, depicting how their music is established in slavery, political turbulence and the communist revolution that governed Cuba since 1953. In spite of their optimistic attitudes, the work’s beginning takes an immediately dismal turn; the modern-day Buena Vista Social Club is nothing more than a sorry-looking gym, the space that once homed a sanctuary for Black musicians and their incredible “son Cubano” is now completely detached from its boisterous yet melodic past.
The most sentimental and fascinating part of the film, however, is the raw footage of Ibrahim Ferrer, who passed away in 2005, and serves as an affectionate tribute to his memory. Ferrer spent the majority of his career as a back-up singer, only achieving his deserved fame in old age, when his voice was no longer capable of the unparalleled rhythms of son Cubano he was known for. The silvery son hales from Eastern Cuba, combining melodic conga drums from Africa and Latin American string music to create a united sound, which leaves listeners unable to resist dancing and clapping along to the beat.
The documentary is presented like a montage of clips from the original film, whilst simultaneously depicting never-seen-before footage, all to the infectious sound of Buena Vista Social Club’s mellifluous lyrics. The fast-paced percussion induces an unparalleled excitement and desire to dance to these musicians’ undefeated spirit and outlook. Despite their restraints, both metaphorically and literally, the Buena Vista Social Club’s sound will only ever function as an illuminating expression of freedom and love.
Buena Vista Social Club: Adios is released in selected cinemas on the 20th October 2017
Watch the trailer for Buena Vista Social Club: Adios here: