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Biography of Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who helped Fidel Castro in his struggle against the corrupt Batista regime, eventually resulting in the overthrow of that government and Castro's taking over of Cuba. The film covers Guevara's life from when he first landed in Cuba in 1956 to his death in an ambush by government troops in the mountains of Bolivia in 1967. Written by
San Juan, Puerto Rico, served as the setting for the Communists' triumphal entry into Havana. In one scene you can see a street identified as Calle Federico Degetau (Federico Degetau Street). Degetau was a Puerto Rican politician and writer, and therefore not someone likely to have a street named in his honor in Havana. See more »
The peasant is like a wild flower in the forest, and the revolutionary like a bee. Neither can survive or propogate without the other. There is one essential difference between us and bees, however. In this hive, I will *not* tolerate drones!
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It was brave of the makers of this film to release it in 1969 when the U.S. war against Communist North Vietnam still raged. It does depict a **failed** attempt to foment revolution in the Third World and on balance it is a negative portrayal of a professional revolutionary. Given the times, any depiction of Guevara and Fidel Castro showing them as human was a bold move.
In the U.S. most publicity has been garnered by Castro's bitterest enemies (those wonderful folks who brought you the **Elian** affair). Fidel has his supporters here, and around the world, also. Many of them seem to have posted comments at this site. The title of this movie is "Che!", not "Fidel!". Naturally, Castro's role will be a secondary one, a decision Castro's supporters seem unable to forgive.
Everyone knows how the story ends, and that is where the movie starts, with Che Guevara's body being transported by helicopter down from the one-room schoolhouse where he was apparently executed after being wounded and captured by an elite unit of the Bolivian Army. It's a strikingly beautiful, almost elegiac shot with the slopes of the Andes stretching to the horizon in the background. The movie proceeds in a semi-documentary style, the story told in flashbacks by Guevara's old Comrades (and some old enemies). Some of the Comrades, visibly aged, give their interviews from prison cells.
While Guevara's early life in Argentina isn't depicted, there is a soundless, striking scene early in the film of Cuban women protesting the dictatorial Battista regime, only to be massacred by Cuban soldiers ("We heard you calling, Cuba and we came...") that well explains what motivated young Ernesto and other youths from Latin America's upper classes to join the Cuban revolutionaries. From there we trace Che's transformation from idealistic medical graduate to hardened guerrilla fighter--summed up in a moment when in the heat of battle he picks up a rifle and leaves his doctor's kit on the ground.
I also disagree with the many criticisms of the portrayal of Fidel Castro by Jack Palance. Palance's movie career was distinctly on the down slope when he accepted the part, but he always had **macho**. Here he captured the 6'4" Castro's dominating physical presence in a land of mostly short statured people.
It is a real pity that this motion picture has completely disappeared. There is not a commercial version of it available anywhere. In the future, perhaps after Omar Sharif has died, this portrait of one of the twentieth century's most charismatic figures will be recognized as the rare achievement it is.
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