Bones Found in Scotland Linked to 19th Century Serial Killers

By Rossella Lorenzi, Jan 23/2013, here.

Evidence linked to one of Edinburgh’s most nefarious trade has emerged from the rear garden of a house in the Haymarket district, according to archaeologists who have linked humans remains unearthed more than a year ago to the body snatching era made infamous by Irish killers Burke and Hare.

Belonging to four adults and at least one child, the disarticulated remains — about 60 bones — feature small holes used to re-articulate the skeletons with wire. This suggests they were used for anatomical display, said experts at consultants GUARD Archaeology.

“The forensic archaeologist at GUARD also identified that some of the bones had very smooth shinny patches, suggesting that they had been handled many times,” John Lawson, from the City of Edinburgh Council Archaeology Service, told Discovery News.

Indeed the remains date back to the early 19th century, when the Scottish capital was a world leader in the study of anatomy.

“Edinburgh’s medical schools acquired human remains legally from hangings, unclaimed poor or, in fact, from illegally dug graves,” Lawson said.

It was at that time, when demand for fresh bodies far outweighed supply, when Irish immigrants William Burke and William Hare began their grisly trade.

From 1827 until 1828 the infamous duo delivered at least 16 bodies to Dr Robert Knox, an anatomy lecturer who was meticulously and obsessively devoted to getting the very best bodies to illustrate specific aspects of human anatomy for his students.

burke-hare-670

Only the first of the bodies they sold to Knox died naturally. All the rest were murdered.

The pair lured poor people into Hare’s lodging house, plying them with whiskey and beer. Then they killed the drunken, insensible victims by compressing their chest and covering their nose and mouth.

Later known as “burking,” this method of suffocation left no suspicious homicide marks and provided the anatomy students with fresh, undamaged bodies.

Finally caught in 1828, the two men had different fates. Burke was hanged in front of a crowd estimated at 30,000 people, while Hare got immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony against his accomplice. No charges were ever brought against Knox.

Ironically, Burke’s remains were handed over to the University of Edinburgh’s medical school where he sold his victims. There, he was publicly dissected and anatomized in the name of science.

Although they are regarded as important relics of this period in Scottish history, the mysterious remains unearthed in the Edinburgh garden may have not passed at all through Burke and Hare’s hands.

“There were so many clandestine dissections and articulated skeletons in early 19th century Edinburgh that there really is no reason at all to trace every single cadaver back to Burke and Hare,” Lisa Rosner, author of “The Anatomy Murders” and distinguished professor of history at Stockton College in New Jersey, told Discovery News.

Moreover, the crimes of the infamous duo were so well known that all their victims are believed to have been accounted for.

“The bodies they supplied weren’t just any bodies. They were fresh, well-preserved cadavers, and it is extremely unlikely they ended up as articulated skeletons,” Rosner said.

Considered as high-quality — and high priced — medical commodities, Burke and Hare’s victims were given special treatment.

“We know from the documentary evidence that they were preserved in alcohol, or divided into sections and handed over to select students. No practical-minded anatomy lecturer would waste them to create an articulated skeleton,” Rosner said.

Indeed, preparing a skeleton for anatomical display was a laborious process which involved soaking the corpse in a closed tub for about two months until all the skin and muscle fell off.

“Then, the preparer had to carefully dig out all the bones from the ‘putrid matter,’ and place them in a basin of pure water,”  Rosner said.

Once clean, the bones were left to dry for quite a long time during Scotland’s summer months. Finally holes were drilled in so that brass or iron wires could hold the bones together.

Most likely, the Haymarket bones underwent the soaking in water treatment.

“That was the fate of second rate, often emaciated cadavers, or those whose soft parts were damaged by injury or disease,” Rosner said.

Why the bones were then buried in the garden remains a mystery.

“Given the fact they may have been acquired illegally, it is possible that someone wished to bury them, or it could have been as simple as a house clearance. We will probably never know for sure,” Lawson said.

“What we do know is that these were used to train the surgeons of the future and are a relic of our heritage, of that early stage of modern medicine,” he added.

 

We can’t stop: Dancing plagues

Now now I know what this sounds like: A dancing plague, seriously?  But I kid you not, these things happened more then once during the  medieval period all over Europe.  Really, I’m not pulling your leg, this article is published in a legitimate scientific journal, The Lancet (which began published in 1823). So really, take a read!

 

“A forgotten plague: making sense of dancing mania,” The Lancet, 2009, by John Waller.

On Christmas Eve in 1021, 18 people gathered outside a church in the German town of Kölbigk and danced with wild abandon. The priest, unable to perform Mass because of the irreverent din from outside, ordered them to stop. Ignoring him, they held hands and danced a “ring dance of sin”, clapping, leaping, and chanting in unison. The enraged priest, recorded a local chronicler, cursed them to dance for an entire year as a punishment for their outrageous levity. It worked. Not until the following Christmas did the dancers regain control of their limbs. Exhausted and repentant, they fell into a deep sleep. Some of them never awoke.

It might seem improbable to us, but there was nothing in this story that mediaeval people found hard to believe. Compulsive dancing joined that litany of natural and human disasters to be explained in terms of celestial or supernatural forces. But even if much of the chronicler’s account is clearly the stuff of legend, we should not dismiss it as purely invention. Plenty of sources indicate that this obscure chronicler may have embellished a real event. The Kölbigk incident is a contender for the first of the dancing plagues.

Later chronicles speak of a bout of unstoppable, and sometimes fatal, dancing in the German town of Erfurt in 1247. Shortly after, 200 people are said to have danced impiously on a bridge over the Moselle River in Maastricht until it collapsed, drowning them all. Likewise, dozens of mediaeval authors recount the terrible compulsion to dance that, in 1374, swept across western Germany, the Low Countries, and northeastern France. Chronicles agree that thousands of people danced in agony for days or weeks, screaming of terrible visions and imploring priests and monks to save their souls. A few decades later, the abbot of a monastery near the city of Trier recalled “an amazing epidemic” in which a collection of hallucinating dancers hopped and leapt for as long as 6 months, some of them dying after breaking “ribs or loins”. On a far larger scale was the outbreak that struck the city of Strasbourg in 1518, consuming as many as 400 people. One chronicle states that it claimed, for a brief period at least, about 15 lives a day as men, women, and children danced in the punishing summer heat. There were also several isolated cases during the 1500s and 1600s, from Switzerland and the Holy Roman Empire, of the mania gripping an individual or entire family.

The dancing plagues are little remembered today, in part because they seem so unbelievable. But while the incidents at Kölbigk, Erfurt, and Maastricht might be apocryphal, there is no question that the 1374 and 1518 epidemics occurred. Dozens of reliable chronicles from several towns and cities describe the events of 1374. And the course of the 1518 epidemic can be minutely detailed with the help of municipal orders, sermons, and vivid descriptions left behind by the brilliant Renaissance physician, Paracelsus. These outbreaks represent a real and fascinating enigma.

 

Dancing Plague

On one thing contemporary and modern writers have agreed: those who danced did so involuntarily. They writhed in pain, screamed for help, and begged for mercy. So what could have impelled them to dance against their will? One theory is that they had ingested ergot, a mould that grew on stalks of ripening rye and can cause hallucinations, spasms, and tremors. Epidemics of ergotism certainly occurred in mediaeval Europe when people ate contaminated flour. But this theory does not seem tenable, since it is unlikely that those poisoned by ergot could have danced for days at a time. Nor would so many people have reacted to its psychotropic chemicals in the same way. The ergotism theory also fails to explain why virtually every outbreak occurred somewhere along the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, areas linked by water but with quite different climates and crops.

We do know, however, that the victims of dancing epidemics were experiencing altered states of consciousness. This is indicated by their extraordinary levels of endurance. In a trance state, they would have been far less conscious of their physical exhaustion and the pain of sore, swollen, and lacerated feet. Onlookers in 1374 also spoke of the afflicted as wild, frenzied, and seeing visions; the dancers yelled out the names of devils, had strange aversions to pointed shoes and the colour red, and said they were drowning in “a red sea of blood”. There is even a drawing of 1564 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder showing a group of women dancing uncontrollably, all of them wearing the distant, distracted, and divorced-from-reality expressions of the deeply entranced.

High levels of psychological distress significantly increase the likelihood of an individual succumbing to an involuntary trance state. It is unlikely to be a coincidence, therefore, that the 1374 dancing plague spread in the areas most savagely hit earlier in the year by the most devastating deluge of the 14th century. The people of Strasbourg and its environs were similarly experiencing acute distress in 1518, after a succession of appalling harvests, the highest grain prices for over a generation, the advent of syphilis, and the recurrence of such old killers as leprosy and the plague. Even by the grueling standards of the Middle Ages, these were bitterly harsh years for the people of Alsace.

But if despair created the right conditions for an extreme psychological reaction, this does not explain why so many danced in their misery. Why did they not sob, scream, riot, fight, or fall into a sullen silence? This is where anthropological field studies prove to be invaluable. Accounts of “possession rituals” from the Arctic and Andes to the Kalahari and Caribbean show that people are more likely to enter the trance state if they expect it to happen and that entranced participants behave in a ritualistic manner, their thoughts and motions shaped by the spiritual beliefs of their cultures. Female mediums in Madagascar, for instance, take on the distinct personas of the spirits believed to inhabit them. Similarly, the participants in Vodou rituals adopt the roles of specific deities drawn from a pantheon of gods with varying personalities. Were there, then, belief systems in the regions affected by the dancing plague that could have channelled widespread despair into an irresistible urge to dance?

A variety of sources, from altar paintings to chronicles and law books, show that a dread of this punitive affliction formed part of the collective consciousness of the people of the Rhine and Moselle valleys. Those living near these mighty commercial waterways shared a profound fear of wrathful spirits able to inflict a dancing curse. And it is in this region alone, close to the western fringe of the Holy Roman Empire, that confirmed epidemics of dancing occurred. Moreover, these outbreaks nearly always struck in or close to cities affected by earlier dancing epidemics. In short, the epidemiological picture is strikingly consistent with a form of cultural contagion. Only where there was a pre-existing belief in a dancing curse could psychological distress be converted into the form of a frantic dance. Every so often, when physical and mental distress rendered people more than usually suggestible, the spectre of the dancing plague could quickly return. All it then took was for one or a few poor souls, believing themselves to have been subject to the curse, to slip into a spontaneous trance. Then they would unconsciously act out the part of the accursed: dancing, leaping, and hopping for days on end.

The course of the epidemics also suggests that they were driven by pious fear. From the outbreaks of 1374, 1463, and 1518 we know that dancing was thought to be both the affliction and its cure. There are accounts of people who had temporarily recovered their wits, deliberately dancing themselves back into oblivion in the expectation that only in this way would the curse be lifted. For the same reason, in Strasbourg in 1518 the authorities mandated that the dancers go on dancing day and night, to which end they constructed a special stage in the heart of the city where they could move freely. They even hired professional dancers and musicians to keep them in constant motion. The policy was a disaster. From the dramatic escalation in the epidemic it seems that the strategy helped spread a psychic contagion. In fact, nothing could have been better calculated to turn the dance into a full-scale epidemic than making its victims perform their dances in the most public of spaces. The authorities turned a crisis into a nightmare scenario worthy of a canvas by Hieronymus Bosch.

The central role of belief is also apparent in the speed with which epidemics abated once victims had prayed at appropriate shrines or undergone elaborate exorcism rituals. Perhaps more significantly, we have several accounts from the mid to late 1500s of cults of entranced dancing in towns close to the Black Forest and where the Rhine enters the North Sea. Groups of distressed men and women deliberately entered a trance and then danced, accompanied by musicians, towards shrines dedicated to the saints most widely associated with the dancing curse: St Vitus and St John. It seems that a dread of the dancing curse had been harnessed and controlled. A psychic epidemic had been turned into an ecstatic religious ritual.

By the mid-1600s, if not before, outbreaks of compulsive dancing had ceased to torment the people of Europe. Their disappearance coincided with the demise of the fervent supernaturalism that had sustained them; in the late 17th century the term “St Vitus’ Dance” was appropriated to describe a quite different medical condition. But these bizarre events are well worth remembering. For they provide an object lesson in the power of our beliefs and expectations to shape the expression of psychological distress. In an age dominated by genetic explanations, the dancing plagues remind us that the symptoms of mental illnesses are not fixed and unchanging, but can be modified by changing cultural milieus. At the same time, the phenomenon of the dancing mania, in all its rich perversity, reveals the extremes to which fear and supernaturalism can lead us.

 

Originally published here.

Ever wonder what farming in Wartime England was like: the BBC knows!

If you’ve ever wondered what England farming was like during WWII, watch the BBC’s Wartime Farm, which airs on TVO every Sunday night at 8pm. It’s a historical documentary featuring one historian and two archaeologist (with delightful period costumes!) showing exactly what it took to run a working farm in England during the Second World War. If you just can’t get enough farming, the team has also produced Edwardian Farm, Victorian Farm, and Tales from the Green Valley!  Here’s a link for Wartime Farm‘s first episode:

While looking for more information about Wartime Farm, I stumbled upon these hilarious propaganda posters about farming. Including:

 

Going Our Way

Save Wheat, Help the Fleet

“Molar Opposites”: Does the historical accuracy of teeth in film matter?

I came across this article this past week in the Globe and Mail discussing one critics opinions on why actors in films that are being congratulated and celebrated for their historical accuracy (specifically the Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave) feature actors whith bright pearly whites. At first glance, I thought maybe he was over reacting a bit, after all they are teeth. But I realised later that he does have a point, and that my attitude was hypocritical. Take a read for yourself. Enjoy!

“Molar opposites: Why I’m blinded by actors’ pearly whites in this year’s top films.” by James Adams, The Globe and Mail, January 8th 2014

“Did they have Crest White Strips in 1985?”

My friend asked me that recently as she, her co-vivant and I strolled out of the movie theatre that had been screening Dallas Buyers Club.

The film is famous, in part, because its star, Matthew McConaughey, dropped almost 20 kilograms to play Ron Woodroof, a hard-partying, trailer-living, trash-talking, rampantly heterosexual urban cowboy who at movie’s start is diagnosed with AIDS and given only 30 days to live.

It’s a bravura performance, based, as they say, “on a true story,” and almost certain to earn McConaughey an Oscar nod. Moreover, the actor’s determination to do right by his character is matched by the film’s strenuous, almost pitch-perfect attention to period detail.

Too bad about the teeth. While McConaughey convincingly drinks, smokes, snorts and fornicates his bowlegged way across the screen as AIDS scores his body and soul, his pearlies remain as white and straight as a line of cocaine on an African blackwood table.

There’s nary a toothbrush in sight, no bleeding or swollen gums, no sores, no stains on the teeth, no splotches on the tongue. Though haggard of face and gaunt of body, McConaughey’s mouth somehow remains immune to the effects of an immune-system-destroying disease.

Ditto for co-star Jared Leto who, pace McConaughey, went on his own weight-loss program for the sake of authenticity and art. Hence, therefore, the perplexity in my friend’s question. (And here the answer to it: Crest White Strips weren’t commercially available until 2001.)

Of course, everyone’s teeth, it seems, are whiter, brighter, more aligned these days, spookily so in some cases. But it wasn’t always thus. Bad teeth and bad oral hygiene have been the norm rather than the exception for epochs, often for entire countries.

This was driven home, in a sort of back-handed way, by the two movies I saw shortly after Dallas Buyers Club, both of them – Inside Llewyn Davis and 12 Years a Slave – historical dramas; each, like Dallas Buyers Club, distinguished by a finicky attention to period detail – and each prompting a fit of oral fixation on my part.

Set in 1961, Llewyn Davis is an artful re-creation of the smoke-filled, coffee-fuelled Greenwich Village folk music scene where money was as hard to come by as a decent meal and good night’s sleep.

It was, in truth, not a great dental era – fluoridation was a commie plot, dentistry was painful, Bob Dylan’s breath reeked from lack of brushing and the mom of one of his girlfriends remembered his molars as being “green.” You’d never know this from watching Llewyn Davis, however: The teeth of stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake are 50 years ahead of time, as pale, orderly and unblemished as their complexions.

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s teeth aren’t quite as orderly as, say, Timberlake’s – the result perhaps of being born in England, a country relentlessly lampooned, on this side of the Atlantic at least, for being a nation of bad teeth. Be that as it may, Ejiofor’s chompers prove remarkably, well … sturdy throughout his performance as the protagonist of 12 Years a Slave.

Indeed, he doesn’t seem to lose any teeth (or weight for that matter) from 1841, when he’s abducted into slavery and sent to work on the nastiest plantation south of the Mason-Dixon Line, through to his release from bondage in 1853. This even though slave diets in the antebellum South were low in calcium, fresh vegetables and fruit, and heavy on pork, cornmeal and sweet potatoes.

One field report from the mid-19th century notes “how you will find but few negroes who are not subject to tooth-ache” while “a large portion of [a physician’s] practice [is] extracting teeth” from these “negroes.”

Of course, Hollywood has not been entirely blind to what disease, diet and behaviour can do to one’s canines and incisors. Check out the brown stubs Taryn Manning sports in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, the result, we’re told, of her character’s years of meth and crack abuse. Still, it’s interesting to note how three big, critically acclaimed films, each clearly priding itself on historical accuracy and verisimilitude, can bite it on the bicuspid front. Could we perhaps call these instances of truth decay?

Understandably, some readers will complain that flaws, distortions, oversights and errors are endemic to the movies, no matter how strongly some films may appeal to truth and history, and that I should get back to flossing my own teeth and not fret about Matthew McConaughey’s.

It’s just that it’s hard, isn’t it, not to notice something once you’ve noticed it or it has been pointed out to you? I love the music of Miles Davis and admire T.S. Eliot’s poetry – but the misogyny of the former and the anti-Semitism of the latter are, for me, a sort of indelible asterisk or stain on their great achievements; they compromise my pleasure.

And now I’m afraid every film I attend from here on is going to be seen through the prism of its performers’ pearlies.

Details, details

Finding anachronisms, gaffes, goofs and errors is an exercise as old as cinema itself. It’s tricky, however, because sometimes the supposed errors are more the stuff of legend than fact. For example, I have heard over the decades that there’s a billboard – or is it the Hollywood sign? – in the background in one of the scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 epic Spartacus. It’s something I’ve accepted as gospel – but recent attempts to firm up the claim have proved unsuccessful. There’s also the danger of being hoisted on the petard of one’s own (apparent) smarts. Like, I’d swear those cool sunglasses worn by Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained couldn’t have existed for real in 1858 in the American South. But, I’m not a historian of eye wear, so who knows? Maybe Quentin Tarantino got it entirely right.

Here are some productions in which we’re sure (or at least pretty sure) Hollywood got its period details wrong:

One Million Years B.C. (1966): Raquel Welch’s fur bikini, stylish though it may be, is just one of dozens of faux pas in this laughable prehistoric potboiler where hunky cavemen and curvy cavewomen battle pterodactyls, brontosauri and other creatures that, in actuality, were long extinct by the time our ancestors trod the earth.

The Alamo (1960): John Wayne directed and starred as Davy Crockett in this lavish, Oscar-nominated recreation of the famous 1836 siege. The original theatrical version ran a whopping 167 minutes and according to Alamo expert Timothy Todish, “there is not a single scene in the movie which corresponds to a historically verifiable incident.”

All the President’s Men (1976): The producers purportedly bought 200 desks from the same company that supplied the real Washington Post newsroom and coloured them with precisely the same shade of paint. They also transported mounds of real Washington Post trash, notebooks and the like to the fake newsroom in Los Angeles. So why, for a movie set mostly in 1973 and 1974, is there a scene with a poster for Allen Toussaint’s Southern Nights tacked to a bulletin board? The LP was released in mid-1975, almost a year after Richard Nixon’s resignation.

The White Queen (2013): Supposedly set against the backdrop of England’s Wars of the Roses (1455-1485), this series has noblewomen wearing dresses with zippers and knights in rubber-soled boots.

Originally published here

Behind every great man is a great woman: Clementine Churchill and her role in WWII

The article below, originally published by The Telegraph, December 28th 2013, discusses a new exhibit highlighting Clementine Churchill’s, the wife of Sir Winston Churchill, important diplomatic role during and following WWII. The exhibit features a number of presents received by Mrs. Churchill from famous players such as Charles de Gaulle, Stalin, and Roosevelt.

Clementine and Winston Churchill

“How Mrs Churchill helped win the war” The Telegraph, Hannah Furness, Dec. 18/13

Her husband is widely recognized as one of the most important leaders in the history of Britain, but the true influence of Clementine Churchill, wife of former Prime Minister Sir Winston, on winning the Second World War can now be revealed.

An exhibition of gifts to the Churchill family, on display at their former home in Chartwell, Kent, shows Clementine as central to Churchill’s diplomatic missions, providing social graces and tactful interventions during his most difficult periods.

Various presents, posted by politicians, dignitaries and fans around the world, reveal how she helped negotiate in her own home, working “tirelessly” to keep up with Sir Winston’s engagements and hailed as the “real force behind Churchill”.

One gift, a lalique crystal cockerel, was sent personally to Clementine alone from Charles de Gaulle, and is said to be intended as an apology, after she intervened to smooth over his disagreement with her husband.

Others include thank you presents for her central role in coordinating sending aid to Russia, as well as a nineteenth-century cut glass fruit bowl in the shape of a Viking Long Boat from Stalin.

Lalique crystal cockerel (Jonathan Primmer/National Trust)

The exhibition, which includes 30 pieces sent to the Churchills towards the end and following the Second World War, are now on display at National Trust property Chartwell.

Some of them, such as a drawer of silver cutlery given by the people of Sheffield, are on loan from the family, with Sir Winston’s great-grandson Randolph Churchill opening the display.

Judith Evans, the house and collections manager of the property for the National Trust, told the Telegraph the gifts showed the true extent of Clementine’s influence at the time.

“She was an incredible woman,” she said. “She was quite a big player. She helped maintain difficult relationships and worked quietly behind the scenes for the war effort.

“She made sure they dined with the right people and led by example in keeping domestic life going.”

Speaking of the gift of the lalique cockerel, from De Gaulle, she said the rumoured inspiration for sending it began with an argument over dinner.

“De Gaulle came to Chartwell and used to dine with them,” she said. “Clementine got on very well with him by all accounts.

“On one evening, it is said, there was a disagreement between De Gaulle and Churchill over dinner. Clementine got very cross and felt he should have more respect for her husband.

“When he went away, he felt very keenly that he had upset her, and the cockerel is supposed to have been sent to appease her.”

Other gifts sent to the Churchills include a cut glass fruit bowl with silver mounts, in the shape of a Viking Long Boat, from Stalin after the Moscow Conference in 1944 and a brass brandy glass warmer from Portugal in the shape of a donkey pulling a cart.

Silver cigar box (Jonathan Primmer/National Trust)

President Roosevelt sent a series of large maps as a Christmas present in 1945, while King Peter II of Yugoslavia bestowed a silver cigar box made by Asprey of London in 1942.

As well as gifts designed for Sir Winston, such as a cigar box with his portrait and an ivory miniature as a 69th birthday gift from the 3rd Battalion 11th Sikh Regiment at Teheran, the family also received countless parcels of food, thank you cards and several animals.

A menagerie including a lion, a white kangeroo, a duck-billed platypus, and black swans are all recorded as being donated, but were not kept at the house.

Evans added many of the gifts were already housed at Chartwell, but had been archived away in previous decades because they “didn’t fit with the decor”.

Jon Primmer, the curator of the exhibition, said: “We wanted to show off the breadth of gifts they received from friends all around the world, from the common man to royalty.

“Every gift was met with thanks. They would make sure everyone who was kind enough to send them things was recognised.”

The exhibition, Gift of Power, is open at Chartwell in Westerham, Kent, until February 23, 2014, with a children’s trail around the garden highlighting the animals Churchill was offered as gifts.

Originally published here.

The Cuban Revolution, Castro, and Che Guevara in Pop Culture

Today is the 55th Anniversary of the Cuban revolution. For those of you who don’t know, in 1959 Fidel Castro and his allies succeeded in overthrowing then Cuban President Batista, replacing the government. Since then Cuba has been governed by Castro and by his younger brother Raul. For this anniversary here is a list of some interesting references/depictions of the Cuban Revolution, Castro, and Che Guevera in pop culture:

(1974) The Godfather Part II

Michel Corleone (played by Al Pacino) celebrates a festive New Years in Havana when Batista and his government are overthrown.  Batista is played by Tito Alba.

Here is a clip from the movie.

(1987) Guerilla War (US)

The arcade game, released in 1987, features two rebels (specifically referenced as Che Guevara and Castro in the Japanese version of the game) fight their way through an island to overthrow a unnamed tyrannical dictator. The game was released also under the titles “Guevara” and “Revolution Heroes.”

(2000) Before Night Fall

sBefore Night Falls Movie Poster

This movie was based off of the auto-biographical novel of Reinaldo Arenas which chronicles his persecution by Castro’s government for being openly gay. The film features an all-star cast, including Javier Bardem, who was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars, and Johnny Depp. The film premiered in North America at the Toronto Film Festival.

(2009) The Godfather II (video game

The Godfather II

More or less along the plot lines of the second Godfather movie, Batista in the video game is voiced by Sergio Gonzales, who hilariously enough voices most of the Spanish speaking characters in the video game.

(2010) Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black Opps

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a first-person shooter video game set within the context of the 1960s and the Cold War. The player is a soldier named Alex Mason working for the CIA, carrying out risky operations behind enemy lines in places like Russia, Cuba, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan. One of these operations includes the attempted assassination of Castro. The game also features a number of other historical characters, including John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.