After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.
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
Why a film about Che now? Why suddenly a revival of a revolutionary hero?
Apathy, political blandness and complacency are the characteristics of today's world when compare with the 60's generation, and any left revolutionary dogma seems, for many reasons, to have been put at rest for the time being and until further notice. The relevance of this film today has many different facets and its success is particularly interesting at a moment of change, when wars, political and economical crisis and their global effects, are starting to provoke some reaction suggesting that involvement might just be around the corner. Wisely the film concentrates on following Guevara diaries before becoming radicalised and in the process of gaining knowledge and awareness of the struggle of the Latin American unprivileged classes and prior to breaking up with his middle class ties. The film has had many viewers that have criticized the lack of a stronger political definition in the portrait of the lead character, a more radical view of Guevara and of its political stand even at that early stage in his life. The film makes his image more digestible for a general audience, showing him in a sympathetic light and from a softer perspective. In my view this is exactly what it makes it relevant and interesting for today's audiences. Although the film grows in the memory as being a touch more political than what perhaps Walter Salles aimed for, it doesn't intend to preach politics or even try to be a full-blown biopic of an historical and controversial figure. What makes the message strong is the fact that we actually know who the character eventually will become after the story of the film finishes and the end titles start to run, that makes it rather more poignant. We only witness the beginning of his personal journey and know how much he will travel. The film is more about personal choices, experiences and decisions that eventually might change the course of a life, and particularly about the spirit of being young. The film recreates the freedom of adolescence, a time for absorbing and experimenting, the start of a trek where we discover the world and where justice and a hope for change is strongly embedded with the attitude of the young. Or at least that happen in the 60's generally and particularly in Latin America. The real quality of the film is that through a subtle, engaging, fun tale allows the audience to connect with a period where change, personal and internal, was possible, and where there was hope for a fairer future.
For anyone like myself from Argentina, part of a generation that were there and young at the time, the film evokes just that starting point. It is a rather emotional journey that takes back a whole generation that had firm beliefs in these ideals, as relevant today as they were in 1952 where the action of the film ends and Guevara flights back home shaken by the whole travel experience. It is rather significant that not that much has changed for the better in the Latin America of today, where the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' has, if anything, grown wider. The film is simple and straightforward showing the real talent of Walter Salles for avoiding patronising his audience as he conveys an accurate portrait of the landscape and its people. There is perhaps some excessive 'under acting' on the approach from Gael Garcia Bernal to his performance [ ...was Che really ever such a "softie"?] but still, it is great to see him growing as an actor and as Che through the film. To counter balanced such a restrained interpretation, Rodrigo de la Serna projects the right dosage of charm and Argentinean street wisdom that gives the warmth and humanity the film exudes. The music of Gustavo Santaolaya adds a layer of depth and intensity whilst rightly avoiding, like the rest of the film, most of the traditional clichés of the South American image.
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