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
A Politically Thoughtful and Pretty Grand Tour of South America
"The Motorcycle Diaries" (Diarios de motocicleta) works more effectively as a bio-pic than on its own as a road movie.
The scenery throughout Latin America is beautiful and the two leads are very affecting, especially Gael García Bernal as Ernesto Guevara de la Serna when "Che" is still nascent.
But it's surprising how undramatic what happens that turns a sweet, middle-class med student into a revolutionary. He was already a liberal who wanted to help leprosy patients, so what happens isn't a complete turn-around -- even when they are broke, they can wire home for more money. Rather it sets off an internal thoughtfulness that is difficult to catch on film.
Mostly just leaving his sheltered life, particularly being dropped by his wealthy girlfriend, and seeing the continent, especially his first exposure to the indigenous peoples who suffer the most in every South American country even while tourists are visiting the ruins of their ancestors, becomes the nexus of his pan-continental political ideals.
He is mostly an observer and inconsistent protester of injustice, not a victim -- it's startling that his culminating noble sojourn at the leper colony, where he can put his skills and indivisible warmth to specific good, is only for three weeks.
So there's no eye-opening "Grapes of Wrath" conflict, though he is always contrasted with his carefree companion, Alberto Granado. Their close camaraderie is well-captured and Ernesto has a profound impact on him, as we learn in a final biographical summary.
It is amusing that Ernesto contradicts the stereotype of the Latin male sensualist and is a terrible dancer to the lovely soundtrack.
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