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Adam Morton

On the Road Again
Only a few key elements separate a road film from any other classification of film
storytelling. First and foremost, road films are not genre dependent. A road movie can be
an action film, road warrior film, drama, comedy, family related, socially contemplative,
or fall into any other genre. Regardless of the genre of the road film, road movies share
two universal elements: a journey and internal change. The primary defining trait of the
road movie is the road. Whether literal or figurative, the road represents a journey
undertaken by the films hero(es), usually sparked by internal conflicts. The hero(es) seek
out something, usually some tangible goal at their destination, but often find more
internal growth and change than actual success in their journey. This internal growth
echoes the classic bildungsroman, a story in which the hero changes, grows, or improves
over the course of the story. (Wikipedia) In a road movie, the characters pass through
various towns on the way to their destination, and frequently they meet a mentor figure,
like that found in the classic bildungsroman, who gives them advice, often of a personal
and insightful nature.
Every definition of road movies I have found so far validates the claim that Viva
Cuba is part of the genre. Malu and Jorgito, driven by their desire to stay together,
embark on an epic journey across Cuba. Along the way, they meet many adults, all male,
who give them advice about their journey. Sometimes the advice is useless or silly, like in
the case of the man who tells them about the fictional monsters, the guijes. On other
occasions, the advice is poignant and personal. Consider, for example, the advice given
by the speleologist they meet near the end of their journey. He tells Malu and Jorgito that
they have failed their journey already if they are willing to give up friendship over a petty
squabble. The nominal goal of the journey Jorgito and Malu undertake is to find Malus
father and convince him to let her stay here in the country, but the true goal is to solidify
their friendship and prevent their separation. Over the course of the journey, Jorgito and
Malu learn to put aside their differences and recognize the power of their friendship.
Likewise, their parents, who have squabbled for years about their class differences, learn
to recognize one anothers similarities over their differences. A hallmark of road movies
is the belief that the journey, and what the heroes learn from it, is far more important than
the destination. Viva Cuba lives up to this requirement by downplaying the destination
entirely. Only a few minutes of the film are dedicated to actually reaching the destination,
which is no different from the situation at the beginning of the journey. The main goal of
the journey, preventing Malus father from signing an exit authorization, is not even
achieved. Reunited with their families, and the petty conflicts of home life, Malu and
Jorgito choose to run away, once again. In a sense, this seems to tell the viewer that by
traveling together, Malu and Jorgito have come to value their friendship, and the road that
forged it, more than their previous goals.
Theres very little more to say. Viva Cuba is a road movie. It fits all the
conventions. Im not going to write any more for fear that it will be worthless fluff.