WashPost Fondly Remembers Film-maker Who Felt 'A Mild Ecstasy' from Fidel Castro's Touch

There were few leftists in America with a deeper love for Fidel Castro than Saul Landau. PBS ran his film “The Uncompromising Revolution” nationwide in 1990, in which he declared, “Fidel touched this young machine adjuster, and the man enjoyed a mild ecstasy. I know the feeling.”

On Wednesday, The Washington Post obituary for Landau by Matt Schudel started with praise for his documentaries, and strangely left all the incriminating material about Landau’s pro-communist goo until the end: (video after the jump)

“I think I’m objective, but I’m not detached,” Mr. Landau told The Washington Post in 1982. “All my films try to teach people without preaching too hard.”

This is a laugh line, not a serious quote. Landau proclaimed to America in this film he surrendered his film to Castro's control: “There is no doubt who is directing this revolution, or this film.” We at MRC made Landau's ecstatic homage to Castro one of our top 20 reasons to defund PBS.

Schudel introduced him as “a writer and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work gave an unprecedented glimpse into Fidel Castro’s Cuba.”

Landau worked with Washington Post journalist John Dinges, he was praised by Newsweek, and he worked for PBS station KQED in San Francisco, where he developed his film-making career. The obit displayed how there are no enemies on the radical left in the “mainstream” media.

Captivated by Cuba since his first visit in 1960, Mr. Landau made six films about the island nation, including “The Uncompromising Revolution,” which was broadcast on PBS in 1990. By then, Castro had been Cuba’s unchallenged leader for more than 30 years.

Castro’s “beard is grayer,” the film noted, “but his charisma remains as strong as ever.” Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara was praised as “a saint.” ["A revolutionary saint," to be precise.]

Detractors said Mr. Landau’s admiring portrait crossed the line from objectivity to “sycophantic fantasy,” in the words of New York Times critic Walter Goodman. Mr. Landau “trails after Castro as he visits with workers, doctors and scientists and looks into a microscope,” Goodman wrote. “Hey, there’s Fidel at a volleyball game. What a guy!”

But Mr. Landau, who had a lifelong friendship with Castro and other Cuban leaders, made no apologies.

“I found Fidel a sympathetic figure and a hell of a good actor,” he told The Post in 1982. “You have 999 anti-Castro films. So why don’t you run one pro-Castro film?”

Landau's film ran as "balance" for an anti-Castro film PBS had rejected for years. MRC's Geoff Dickens couldn't believe it as he made this video clip:

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis