In 1952, twenty-three year old medical student Ernesto Guevara de la Serna - Fuser to his friends and later better known as 'Ernesto Che Guevara' - one semester away from graduation, decides to postpone his last semester to accompany his twenty-nine year old biochemist friend 'Alberto Granado' - Mial to his friends - on his four month, 8,000 km long dream motorcycle trip throughout South America starting from their home in Buenos Aires. Their quest is to see things they've only read about in books about the continent on which they live, and to finish that quest on Alberto's thirtieth birthday on the other side of the continent in the Guajira Peninsula in Venezuela. Not all on this trip goes according to their rough plan due to a broken down motorbike, a continual lack of money (they often stretching the truth to gain the favor of a variety of strangers to help them), arguments between the two in their frequent isolation solely with each other, their raging libidos which sometimes get ... Written by
Ernesto and Alberto's real-life motorcycle was a British-made Norton International, with a 500cc single-cylinder engine. For the film, the crew used restored Nortons, except for the crash scenes, which used modern Suzukis made up to look like Nortons (and christened "Nortsukis"). According to the director, the old Nortons were unfailingly reliable, and the modern Suzukis constantly broke down. See more »
The movie is set in the early 1950s. When Ernesto and Alberto arrive in Valparaiso, Chile, a blue floating dry-dock (the "Valparaiso III", owned by SOCIBER) is visible on the bay. It first appeared in 1985. See more »
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES (2004) ***1/2 Gael Garcia Bernal,
Rodrigo De la Serna, Mia Maestro. (Dir: Walter Salles)
Che Guevera is sadly best known today as a mysterious icon for a pop culture ironic t-shirt sported by the supposedly hip and political. Few, including this reviewer, really knew much more about the firebrand revolutionist who was a comrade in Cuban arms with Fidel Castro in a crusade that led to his eventual capture and execution by the CIA as a notorious fly-in-the-ointment career criminal.
However new insight albeit a few shades of grey and free styling dramatic license intact depicts a twenty something medical student named Ernesto Guevera da la Serna, a South American native (memorably portrayed by the ever soulful Bernal, in a truly outstanding breakthrough performance) who partners with his best friend Alberto Granado (strongly supportive De la Serna) on a trek by motorcycle (a battered 1939 Norton to be exact) an 800 plus mile quest from Argentina up thru the upper regions of Peru with nothing but a few provisions and even less dinero.
Relying on their bonhomie, make-shift surroundings and clever improvisation the odd couple manage to get to Ernesto's girlfriend's nouveau riche family where he tells the lovely Chichina Ferreyra (the fetching Maestro) that he wants her to wait for him but knows in his heart this is more than likely never to be.
After several humorous encounters along the fray the duo finally have to give up their trusty vehicle after many hardships and torrential weather obstacles to go on foot then finally on ferry to their destination: an internship with a leper colony. Along the way the duo meet many disenfranchised and impoverished fellow countrymen and their women and families and with each soul-crushing pit-stop you can feel the stirrings of ire catching fire within the young man who will become Che Guevera.
Salles, who directed the exceptional CENTRAL STATION, smartly allows his two fine actors plenty of room to get into the skins of their funny, fighting and deep souled characters while enlisting the picturesque surroundings of the lush and jaw-droppingly beautiful playas, mountains and countryside (exquisitely rendered by ace cinematographer Eric Gautier) and underlies the proceedings with a hauntingly stirring score by Gustavo Santaolalla.
But it is Bernal who is most powerful in his implosive, soulful and heartfelt turn as the young impassioned man just about to break for greatness; the same can be said of this talented actor's star bursting career.
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