This short film showing Havana in the 1930s was shot by André de la Varre, the long-time cameraman and cinematographer for American traveler, photographer and filmmaker Burton Holmes. In those days, Havana was a flourishing and fashionable city dubbed the “Paris of the Caribbean,” attracting an ever increasing number of tourists. André de la Varre’s film portrays Havana as the “exotic capital of appeal,” which pretty much sums up its essence during those days.

Bonus material: A list of all the sights shown in this film can be found here; another short film about Havana in the 1950s hereThis video from late 2008 gives an idea of the sorry state of Havana’s city center today. And don’t foget to marvel at the wonderful collection of vintage travel films at The Travel Film Archive.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.


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  • Mark says:

    The “sad state”? The sad state of Havana occurred during the imperialist rules of the Spanish and the United States.

  • Lesley says:

    Fascinating film. Most interesting to see La Habana during the American ‘interest’ in Cuba. How many American statues have been removed and traces of the U.S. since Castro and Che’s revolution. Sad, nostalgic film. Poor Cuba is still evolving – I hope towards happier, more prosperous times for its citizens… Cuba is la isla muy linda and her brave people deserve much better lives.

  • Fina says:

    Sad to see that so many people do not understand the true meaning of evolution. Lesley is right in saying that the Cuban people deserve a better, more prosperous life. Unfortunately through the tunnel vision of this last commentator I can see that some do not learn from history. We all need capitalism to flourish. Certainly not a dictatorship govt like Casto’s.

  • avram gur arye says:

    fina doesn’t seem to realize that Capitalism enslaves it ‘s citizens with corrupt government and corporate rule. All is corrupt in D.C. REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT does not exist in DC or in our cities. D.C. takes our tax money and spends it on war. Low wages will just mean we pay less in taxes, therefore, D.C. soon won’t be able to wage war without bankrupting the nation. Viva, low wages. Thumbs down for our government. When we make our cities more democratic, D.C. will have to change or they will remain useless. Change our cities now! Get involved in your city’s government. Save your cities from corruption and it.s consequent unethical behavior!

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