Fidel Castro TV Series Charts 638 Assassination Attempts

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Illness has
forced him from public view but Fidel Castro is back in Cuban living
rooms via a lavish television series that celebrates his escape
from 638 assassination plots.

The eight-part
series, He Who Must Live is an extravagant departure from
Cuban TV’s typically low-budget fare: more than 1,000 actors and
extras are used in a mix of CSI-type fiction, docu-drama and archive

The interior
ministry, institute of police sciences and state-sanctioned film-makers
teamed up to tell the story of how the CIA spent decades trying
to murder the US’s tropical communist foe.

"As a
historical series we turn to a mix of genres to help us and give
the viewers more information about the facts," the director,
Ruiz Benítez, told officials
before the first 70-minute
instalment aired last Sunday.

The prime time
show, unprecedented in its glossiness, is to run over eight weeks,
each episode focusing on a different period. It marks an unexpected
starring role for a leader who relinquished power and vanished from
public view four years ago after serious intestinal problems.

Dan Erikson,
an analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue thinktank and author of
The Cuba Wars, said: "Fidel Castro may be leaving the
stage but it’s already clear that he has no plans to go quietly.
By commissioning a major television series about how Fidel Castro
outwitted and outlasted his foes in the United States over the past
50 years, the Cuban government is reviving one of its favourite
story lines and burnishing the mythology that swirls around Cuba’s
revolutionary leader."

The series
took three years, 243 actors, 800 extras and a possibly significant
chunk of Cuban TV’s spartan film-making budget.

The inaugural
programme focuses on efforts to kill Castro when he was a young
revolutionary in Mexico in 1956 preparing to lead several dozen
guerrillas on a mission to overthrow Cuba’s US-backed dictator,
Fulgencio Batista.

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11, 2010

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