13 July 2010

Fidel Castro's oratory

A few days ago, when posting comments on the Queen's recent 'politically neutral' speech to the United Nations, I mentioned the fact that UN members have heard some pretty controversial speeches from other heads of state.

Today's news that Fidel Castro has given his first TV interview since his 'retirement' reminded me that he was one of them.

It also reminded me of a rather obvious point I'd made in a heading above a picture of the young Castro in my book Our Masters' Voices (1984, p. 4):

'Skillful public speaking can be readily recognized even in those whose politics we may disagree with, and whose languages we do not understand.'

What fascinated me then - and still does - is the fact that we don't have to be able to understand Spanish or German to be able to see and hear that speakers like Castro and Hitler were highly effective orators.

In this first clip, we don't actually get to hear anything of what he says, but the ancient newsreel does provide a vivid reminder of the kind of mass rallies the Cuban leader used to address after coming to power - not to mention his PR skills in allowing himself to be filmed playing baseball.

In this next one, we do get to see and hear him in action, this time at the United Nations - where his style of delivery is very different from that exhibited by the Queen last week.

If, like me, you don't understand a word of what he's saying, a useful exercise is to watch, listen and take note of what it is about the way he's speaking that leaves you in no doubt that this is a passionately delivered speech that certainly isn't 'politically neutral':

1 comment:

Janice Tomich said...

Point taken Max.

I'm not fluent in Spanish either but Castro's passion is compelling. It helps prove the point that buy-in often can be won over without supporting content.

It is interesting that although he is obviously reading his passion even detracts from that.

Cheers and thanks for the old black and whites -often where the brilliant orators can be found. To bad that slick, colour media can't help poor speakers!