A month or so ago I was invited to download and review this film, “Cigars: The Heart and Soul of Cuba” – a documentary film by James Suckling and James Orr. Of course, James Suckling is well known for having been the European editor for Cigar Aficionado magazine for many years, and has a wine review site at jamessuckling.com. James Orr is an award winning filmmaker, responsible for such titles as “3 Men and a Baby”, “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit”, but you may know him more for his most famous films “The Fuente Family: An American Dream”, and “Fuente Fuente Opus X: The Making of A Legend”.
In my life I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy cigars from all over, including those from Cuba, which this film is about. The quality of cigars from different countries is a constant debate, and there are those who believe that Havanas are the best, and there are those who don’t. I happen to be of the opinion that there are great cigars from all over, and we are currently in a golden age of cigars. Cuban cigars are different, distinctive, and happen to have flavors that I find appealing. Watching this film, after having toured factories in Nicaragua and Dominica, I was taken back to those visits. The cigar manufacturing in Cuba isn’t all that much different than it is in those other countries. It’s all about the tobacco and the people, and this movie does a nice job of presenting the human side of the manufacture. James hits all the major points of the processes involved, paying special attention to the fermentation process, including a very nice segment with Hirochi Robaina (Grandson of Don Alejandro), not only showing his advances in controlling the leaf processing, but interacting with his children as well. I just love watching cigars being rolled, and there’s some very nice footage of rolling and packaging. He points out that 200 pairs of hands and 140 individual steps are involved in the making of a cigar, and I wonder if that’s not a conservative estimate. When one watching this, and sees all of the steps, one must remember that there is a different recipe for each cigar, and many different tobaccos, primings, and sizes. How they keep it all straight, I can only imagine.
This is a movie you want to watch as a cigar lover. It could have been made in Honduras, Nicaragua, or Dominica just as easily, but of course the glimpse into a country we aren’t allowed to go to is interesting. The quality is excellent, it’s really shot well, and James’ narration is easy to listen to and informative.
Unfortunately, my file encountered a problem about 5 minutes from the finale, so I don’t know how it ends! Please don’t spoil it for me! I finally was able to see the last few minutes of the movie, and it reinforced one of the things I mentioned above, the people. It ended with an interview with Jorge Maique, the co-president of Habanos S.A., stressing that it’s the passion of the people that make the product excellent.
After watching, I felt compelled to open the “special” humidor and pick out something appropriate. Since time was short, I selected a Punch Petit Coronation for a quick walk. This is a nice little cigar, it has that signature Cuban “twang” and every once in a while you get a little taste of something that is intriguing, a mild exotic spice of some sort. A really pleasing little smoke. I won’t go out of my way for a Havana cigar anymore, there are too many great cigars out there, but it is a nice treat once in a while!
Here’s the trailer for the movie. If you love cigars and have the opportunity, by all means see this film. It’s got some great information and is really beautiful visually, and the soundtrack is really cool too! Thanks to Krystal Schwegel at JamesSuckling.com for providing me with the copy of this film for my viewing pleasure.
That’s it for now, until the next time,