At 42,426 square miles, Cuba is the biggest country in the Caribbean Sea with more than 3,500 miles of coastline, and more than 250 beaches to take in its sparkling waters. The long and narrow island has a population of over 11 million people and also includes Isla de la Juventud and several other minor archipelagos.
The national sport is baseball, dating all the way back to the 1860s, with many of the most famous US players, such as Yunel Escobar and Yoenis Cespedes calling the “Pearl of the Antilles” their native home.
You might also associate cigars with the country; in addition to nickel and sugar, tobacco is one of their biggest exports. Then there are also dance styles that they have made famous like salsa, rumba, and mambo, just for starters.
It is also well known for some of its people, such as Fidel Castro, a Cuban revolutionary and the country’s leader for almost 50 years. There is also Che Guevara, the Marxist revolutionary who is regarded by many as a national hero. And don’t forget their pristine, classic American cars that line the streets.
Aside from being an island and surrounded by water, Cuba also has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Old Havana and the Viñales Valley. There are 842 mountains as well as bays, beaches, swamps, coral reefs, cliffs, and over 10,000 caves and mountainous forests, grasslands, and jungles.
Its warm climate and lengthy shoreline (and its 2014 reopening to the United States after 54 years) make it a prime spot for holiday travelers. And over the years, it has also been a prime spot for some filmmakers, even with its embargo history. Here are a few of the most notable:
Movies Filmed in Cuba
We Were Strangers (1949)
This adventure drama starred John Garfield and Jennifer Jones. The story is set in 1933 and involves revolutionaries in Cuba trying to overthrow the government. They plan to do this by taking out a bunch of government officials at the funeral of another government official. The story is loosely based on historical events and a Robert Sylvester novel. Parts of the film were done in Havana.
Duration: 106 minutes
Strawberry and Chocolate (1993)
This Spanish film was based on a 1990 Senel Paz novel. The story was set in Havana in 1979 and starred Vladimir Cruz and Jorge Perugorría as two young men living in Cuba who become friends despite the fact that they were supposed to be monitoring one another’s activities an whereabouts. It was filmed in its entirety in Havana.
Duration: 108 minutes
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
This biopic detailed the 1952 mostly motorcycle trip that a young Che Guevara took across South America. It is based on both his diaries as well as his companion Alberto Granado’s book, Traveling with Che Guevara: The Making of a Revolutionary. It starred Gael García Bernal and Rodrigo de la Serna. Some filming was done in Havana.
Duration: 126 minutes
I Am Cuba (1964)
This anthology movie consisted of four short stories about the trials and lives of different people in Cuba, along with their responses to the news about a guerilla march during the 1959 revolution. It starred Sergio Corrieri and Luz María Collazo. Filming was done in Havana.
Duration: 141 minutes
The Fate of The Furious (2017)
Movie number eight in the long-running car-racing movie series, this one starred Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Vin Diesel, and Jason Statham, among others. Just when it seems like the crew can have somewhat of a normal life and leave their past deeds far behind, they are roped back into the chaos when Dom gets into hot water. Some filming was done in Havana.
Duration: 136 minutes
The Old Man and the Sea (1958)
This adventure drama starred Spencer Tracy and Felipe Pazos Jr. and was based on Ernest Hemingway’s 1952 novel of the same name. After going 84 days without making a catch, a Cuban fisherman finally gets one on his line, but it takes him three days and nights to actually reel it in. Some filming was done in Havana and Boca de Jaruco.
Duration: 87 minutes
Juan of the Dead (2010)
Not to be confused with the 2004 Shaun of the Dead movie starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this one was the first-ever zombie film made in Cuba, with locations done around Havana. The comedy starred Alexis Díaz de Villegas and Jorge Molina. When zombies begin to attack their town, Juan and his friend open a up a business that caters to killing them for others.
Duration: 80 minutes
Week-End in Havana (1941)
This musical film starred Carmen Miranda, Alice Faye, John Payne, and Cesar Romero. Nan will not take no for an answer when her vacation is ruined by her cruise ship running aground and continually refuses to sign a waiver for it. Which forces Jay to try to convince her to do it in any way he can. Some filming was done in Havana.
Duration: 81 minutes
The Big Boodle (1957)
This crime film starred Errol Flynn, Pedro Armendáriz, Rossana Rory, and Gia Scala. The story was set in Cuba with some filming done there. When a casino dealer in Havana receives counterfeit pesos, both the police and a bunch of criminals set off after him. Some filming was done in Havana.
Duration: 84 minutes
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Movies filmed in the US Virgin Islands