Before Night Falls

Synopsis: Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City. He joins Castro's rebels. By 1964, he is in Havana. He meets the wealthy Pepe, an early lover; a love-hate relationship lasts for years. Openly gay behavior is a way to spite the government. His writing and homosexuality get him into trouble: he spends two years in prison, writing letters for other inmates and smuggling out a novel. He befriends Lázaro Gomes Garriles, with whom he lives stateless and in poverty in Manhattan after leaving Cuba in the Mariel boat-lift. When asked why he writes, he replies cheerfully, "Revenge."
Director(s): Julian Schnabel
Production: Fine Line Features
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 21 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
133 min

Trees have a secret life|that is only revealed

to those who are willing|to climb them.

I do not remember|when I was born.

But, when I was three|months old,

my mother returned|to my grandparents' home

with me as the proof|of her failure.

The splendor of my childhood|was unique,

because of its absolute poverty,|and absolute freedom...

out in the open,

surrounded by trees,|animals, and people

who were indifferent|toward me.



Nio, aprate con esa agua,|Dios mo!

Mira que hay que esperar|en esta casa!

My early life was surrounded|by a room full of unhappy women

who were all bossed around|by my grandmother,

the heart of the house,

the only woman I ever saw|who peed standing up

and talked to God|at the same time.

My mother was a very beautiful|and very lonely woman.

She had only known one man,|my father,

and had enjoyed the pleasures|of love for only a few months

and then, gave that all up|for the rest of her life,

creating in her|a great sense of frustration.

Her chastity was worse|than that of a virgin.

Hijo de puta!

Vete de aqu!


Hijo de puta!


The most extraordinary|event of my childhood

was provided by the heavens.

Water rushed down gutters,

reverberating over|the zinc roof like gunfire

a massive army marching|across the trees,

overflowing, cascading,|thundering into barrels,

a concert of drums,

water falling on water,

drenched and whistling|and out of control,

and under the spell of violence,

let loose that would sweep away|almost everything in its path.

Trees, stones,|animals, houses.

It was the mystery|of destruction.

The law of life.

As I saw it,

the currents were|roaring my name.

Flowers have|reproductive organs.

Class, can anyone|tell us what the male

reproductive organ is called?



A dick.|A long, skinny dick.

Don't ask her where|she comes from.

Can't you see she|is from the garden

and the most beautiful|flower of them all?

Buenas tardes,|con permiso.

Seor Fuentes, I didn't mean|to disturb your dinner.

What did he do?

No, he didn't do|anything wrong.

I came here to tell you that|Reinaldo has a special gift.

What special gift?

He has a sensitivity|for poetry.

After that, my grandfather|sold the farm

and moved the family|to Holgun,

opened a grocery store,

and refused to speak|to any of us.

Holgun was a town|of 200,000 people

and one garbage truck.

The rebels are in Velasco.

We can walk it in a day.


We'll leave tonight.

'T bien.

You think you can|do it with her?

My name is Reinaldo.|What is yours?


- Would you like to dance?|- Cmo no.

Qu t quieres?|T eres muy nio.

Incorprate a la lucha.

Radio Rebelde, transmitiendo|desde las montaas de Oriente,

desde la Sierra Maestra,

territorio libre de Cuba.

Aqu Radio Rebelde.

Where are you going, kid?

- Up the road.|- Up the road where?


Velasco?|You are not from Velasco.

I am from Velasco.|Why do you go to Velasco for?

Ah, the rebels|are in Velasco.

You going to join|the rebels?

Your mam know you are|going to join the rebels?


Where she is?

She's in Miami, working.

Would you like to see?

It's upside down.

Qu bonita.

You want to hit things?

Sometimes I like|to hit things.

My mother, she has|a store in Velasco.

Before that it was my|grandmother's store,

and before that,|it was her mother's store.

I have six brothers.

They all want|to join the rebels.

The second one,|he joined the rebels.

I'm the middle one,|I don't join the rebels.

Get that for me.

Go home.

The rebels are no more|in Velasco.

Go on, get off.

Get off!

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