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I would not consider myself to be an ultra liberal, but I am somewhat
knowledgeable about what has been going on in South America for the
last 100 years, and Che Guevara is a part of it. Going into this movie
all I knew about him was that he is on a lot of t-shirts, and that
"che", despite what ignorant people think, is not his name, it is what
Argentinians say to each other like in the US saying "dude".
I am also a big fan of the purity of movies, not this Spider-man crap that is all over the place, but the true art of films, and I am fairly serious when I go into a movie for the first time. A part of this is that I watch the movie throwing all bias I might have out the window and watch it as if I had never heard of it before. That said, I believe this movie was excellent because it had superb cinematography of the beauty of South America, had excellent acting, great chemistry between the two main actors (despite Ebert saying they did not), and an overall political theme.
This movie did not get great reviews in the US, and I haven't seen reviews from Latin American countries, but I am guessing they are better. This is because many people either shied away from the movie once they heard the word Che, and if they did see it, through the whole movie they were probably thinking "commie, commie!".
I have since read up on Che Guevara, and he is actually a fascinating person to study because he began as a rich boy who through his journeys learned how much people were suffering beyond his imagination, and part of this was how he got to be so rich, by suppressing the native people. The movie does an excellent job of showing this transition from his carefree exploring until later having an epiphany about his destiny to help the people. Yes, he got extreme after a while, but the study of him is compelling nonetheless.
It is interesting to know that coffee and bananas that say "Guatemala" are still grown today by slave laborers on farms, and that the US does not mind the slave labor because they were the ones who sponsored a coup in 1951 to install a dictatorship that in history books says it was an ousting of communism, which makes it okay. This is a much bigger and important example than the movie, but it is the same bias involved: People in the United States (I don't say America because that refers to every country from Argentina to Canada, not just the US as people in this country like to think) not only don't care about the suffering of people in other countries (unless it's mentioned on Oprah or involves economic rewards) but have the nerve to call them evil when they try to better themselves, which at the time was the communist movement in South America. This is not the communism of Castro or even of the later Che Guevara, but simply to give more to the starving and suppressed that are today suppressed to make your bananas and Starbucks coffee.
Because of the biases people have towards the people of countries they know nothing about, this movie has been extremely underrated in the wake of films that comparatively suck ("Ray", way overrated) yet have been rewarded because of their popularity and appeasement to the ignorant people that attend theaters in the United States.
This movie is based on the true story that took Ernesto Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna) on a road trip all across and along South America in the 1950's. The script/direction elegantly avoids any politics or similar. Its focus is on the human transformation of two young Argentine professionals, a turning point in their lives, who decide to see their continent with their own eyes. This movie only covers Che Guevara's life BEFORE he became the famous Che Guevara. Most of us would agree with Che's goals but less, I guess, would agree with his means. However, the movie concentrates on how the world changed Ernesto which in turn led him to try to change the world. The movie ends at the end of their road trip. I understand that there is another movie in the making (with Benicio del Toro) which will show the rest of Che' s life, with politics and flying bullets included. The acting of the movie is first class: Gael Garcia Bernal performs at his best; however it is Rodrigo de la Serna's performance the one that is simply outstanding; not only he represents Granado's as a funny, outgoing character, but he also highlights Gael's characterization of Guevara. Great photography, humor, action, and drama are all ingredients of this movie. If you want to watch a movie that deals with reality and that contrasts with Hollywood's fantasies, this is your movie. You'll laugh, may be cry, but for sure you'll leave the theater thinking about a few things. Finally, this movie ironically represents Che's ultimate goal, a unified continent: the director is Brazilian, the main actor Mexican, the main actress and supporting actor Argentinean, the script writer is from Puerto Rico and the producer, Robert Redford is American. And, the movie was filmed in Argentina, Chile and Peru. Length: 2hs 04 min.
The Motorcycle Diaries does a great job of sketching out the character of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, without any pandering to our knowledge of who he will become. There are no cheap shots and only one 'Che' joke-to explain the origin of the nickname, which is a play on the Argentinian accent. It's a deeply felt examination of the events that inspired the development of a political consciousness, with only a few touches of the hagiography that has developed around 'el Che' and those not until late in the film. Gael Garcia Bernal is completely believable and very human in the role, and there's real chemistry between him and Rodrigo de la Serna (any relation?) who plays his friend Granado, leading to a lot of funny moments-important, as ther are many stretches of the movie where it is just them and the scenery. The cinematography is truly gorgeous, and reminded me how little of the South American landscape we ever see on film in the U.S. The cinematographer has pulled off a major feat in shooting a period film in slightly grainy, sometimes shaky hand-held. No crane shots or sepia tinting here-the film quality immerses you in Guevara and Granado's experiences and makes them feel very immediate, without sacrificing any sense of history. A film like this is long overdue, and it deserves wide distribution. While the plot revolves around Che's awakening to the social struggles of South America (which are ongoing) there is a rich sense of place, and people, and beauty here. It seems to me that this is the first South American film in a few years that is not a world-weary documentary about social or political problems (and U.S. involvement in them), to open in the U.S. market. It's about the life of Che, yes, but it doesn't forget the people and problems that lead him into political activity, and will hopefully inspire viewers to pay more attention to what is going on around them, not only in Buenos Aires, Cuzco, Havana or Chiapas, but right next door.
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES is certainly one of the finest films of the year
- a daring, compassionate re-creation of the journey of two young,
well-to-do Argentinean lads who leave their privileged positions of
biochemist and fourth year Medical student to follow their idea of
traveling by motorcycle from their native Buenos Aires down to
Patagonia, up through Chile, Peru, Colombia to Venezuela. Sounds like a
light hearted Trip Movie, but instead this journey, factually made by
one Ernesto (aka 'Che' and 'Fuser') Guevara de la Serna and his close
friend Alberto Granado ('Chubby'), is one of the most touching and
sensitive passages into self acceptance and awareness of the world as a
place where equality of people is a microscopic speck of illusion that
is revealed by a carefully constructed script by Jose Rivera based on
the diaries of both of these men made during and after their journey.
Walter Salles ("Behind the Sun", "Central Station") once again proves
himself a director who can infuse his vision of a story with
uncomplicated directness of approach, having the sensitivity to allow
his well-chosen actors to create wholly believable, three-dimensional
characters, whether the actors are the leads or simply minor roles that
hold the camera's eye for seconds.
Taken as simply a movie to enjoy, THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES is as beautiful as a National Geographic Magazine feature on the Amazon and the deserted and populated lands of South America. But given his re-creation of Che Guevara's and Alberto Granado's meaningful excursion into manhood this movie goes far beyond entertainment and enters that rarefied arena of psycho biography. Traveling on an old motorcycle, the two lads encounter hunger, accidents, lusting after women at every stop, ingratiating panhandling, and the gradual revelation of the quality of life of the indigenous peoples of South America. They are touched by the plights of the people, the people in turn love the boys, and they eventually spend three weeks living and working in a leprosarium run by the nuns, adding their knowledge of medicine to helping not only the physical needs of the lepers but finding ways to break the psychosocial ostracism that historically curses the 'unclean'. Breaking down these barriers, forming strong relationships with those tending the lepers as well as the lepers themselves, lays the seeds of 'revolution' or Change in the minds of the lads, especially Ernesto or 'Che'. The film does not begin to preach or to make the Che Guevara of Cuban militancy fame a hero: it doesn't have to, as the transformation in the mind of Che is so beautifully subtle. The journey has given him the insight that he must devote himself to changing the inequality and poverty of his America. The events that followed this Motorcycle journey are provided in voice over, black and white footage of people's faces, and a final scene in Havana at the ending of the film. No more need be said.
Gael Garcia Bernal gives an incredibly thoughtful, stunning portrayal of Che, saying so much more with his eyes, his body language (especially as he suffers through his own physical demon of asthma attacks), and his perfect embodiment of the spirit of a man who becomes enlightened by the peasants he comes to love. Bernal is already a brilliant actor and a magnetic screen presence, and if he is not nominated for an Oscar for this unique, artful role it will be a major surprise. His is a career to watch! Likewise Rodrigo de la Serna is completely immersed in his role as Alberto and shows the same quality of quiet growth as a character as the movie progresses. ALL of the many extras in this huge cast are memorable: the leper colony abounds with some of the most touching human beings ever captured on film. The camera work, the musical scoring, the obvious commitment on the part of everyone involved in this glorious picture - every aspect of THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES is exactly right. Ten Stars for this one! In Spanish with English subtitles
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.
The Motorcycle Diaries is a tale of Che's life prior to becoming a
revolutionary political figure. We follow Che and his friend on a
cross-country road trip, a journey into the unknown. The film was
beautifully filmed. It really makes you want to travel and go to see
some of the South/Central American countries.
The acting was superb. Gael Garcia Bernal is not new to the screen. He has delivered amazing performances in both Amores Perros and Y Tu Mama Tambien. He does not disappoint in this movie. Newcomer, Rodrigo De La Serna, also gives an excellent performance.
Regardless of your politics and personal views of Che, you will walk away from this movie feeling a bit better about humanity.
I'm hoping this pulls Best Foreign Oscar.
"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.
Why a film about Che now? Why suddenly a revival of a revolutionary
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.
From director Walter Salles comes a very moving road journey which had
me completely spellbound by the end and I'm sure would gain many
viewer's hearts as the infamous director dives deep into many different
The story centres around two young doctors going on a motorbike journey around the world, not for personal gain but for the experience. This idea was completely outstanding. It gives the audience an understanding of young people's desires, not for personal gains such as money but for an experience into real life issues and wishing to know more about the world around them. These ideas I'm sure would make viewers aspire to be like the central characters to go out and explore the world and that was a reason why I personally loved this drama, because it gives inspiration to the audience and really moves them in a way which will leave you completely spellbound.
The film centres on many issues but one which stuck out for me was the heavy ideologies of health. In the year 1950 there were many health issues present in the poorer counties such as Peru and this Oscar winning drama is able to capture these issues magnificently. The two central protagonists are doctors and are wishing to help others with their knowledge and expertise as they explore the less fortunate countries to help with the many depressing health problems the countries are experiencing. There is a very highly emotional driven scene when the lead character tries to help a very ill woman who is refusing to be treated. Tensions are always running high in the latter stages of the film when many issues are wishing to be resolved and the central protagonists are putting themselves on the line to help the ill residents of the poor countries.
Having changes in situations was a very powerful technique. The characters experience a poor life and a rich life. Audiences will see different perspectives of life in the 1950s when seeing there are poor and rich countries and are divided by the smallest differences, such as illnesses. We also see more joyous moments and highly emotional driven scenes which also gives a sense of how life is, the good and bad sides are both expressed in equal amounts which in my opinion was a fantastic move and will capture your heart as it did mine
Centred on the 1950s the film captured the essence of the politically driven time beautifully. Audiences see job issues, money problems and country matters which all juxtapose perfectly to capture the essence of the time and crate a high realism in context of the time
The acting by everyone involved is absolutely outstanding and it confused me when not one received an Oscar nomination because Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo De la Serna are remarkable as the two travellers. Both dealing with their own issues we see different types of characters but similar characteristics to which made the film more believable of society where opinions are divided but also shared.
Bernal plays a character who is always saying what he feels and is never wishing to back down from anyone or anything and he pulled it off tremendously. The passion he creates as the central protagonist Guevara is utterly astonishing as he deals with asthma problems, love lives and money issues. It's a lot for him to take as he realises how serious life can be. Serna to also pulls off a classic performance as the older more experienced of the two who is always looking for that little bit more than his fellow traveller.
Using different countries such as Peru, Venezuela, and Spain allows viewers to gain an insight into the vastness of life. Using poor countries as well as rich countries allows viewers to see different sides to the world in the 1950s and was pulled off greatly. The characters can therefore experience what a posh life is like as well as what life in the fast lane gives them. The camera work is astonishing. Shooting from Venezuela, Peru etc we see different perspective of the countries. The scenery is always beautiful with shots of the towns in a poor state and the general background of the countries is to be admired. The shots of the bike on the roads are to be admired. The camera moves adjacent to the bike giving the realistic effect of the bike moving fast along the empty roads, gaining a sense of freedom and enjoyment.
From watching this film I can say I have been inspired to get on a motorbike and explore the world. Seeing what the central protagonists saw will inspire many as it has inspired me and I have no hesitation in recommending this Oscar winning drama to anyone.
I just got home from seeing this movie. I'd have to say first of all
that reading some of the negative comments about this film being
"clean" or "boring" or "childish" astounded me.
The plot has been summarized numerous comments before, so I'll just move on to my comments.
If clean is hearing the word "motherf*cker" every 20 or so words, seeing a 30 year old man trying to get into numerous girls pants, or listening to young men talk about a woman's anatomy, then this movie's clean.
It is not clean. The images aren't clean looking either, but rather I'd say they're realistically unclean. Many things happen to the men which make them dirty first of all. The terrain is rustic, and harsh, and takes a toll on people in the movie. The people look hard, and filthy, and well, unclean.
If childish is a conscientious young man trying to make a positive difference in a world lacking fairness, writing emotionally stirring but also thoughtful, compassionate, and amazingly wise words, and lovingly wanting to close the gap between the haves and the have nots, then this movie is childish.
No, this movie's not childish. I was in fact deeply moved to tears seeing such a man as Che. These days, young men seem to want to be players. They work out, and make themself beautiful by going to tanning salons. They want to sleep with a lot of women and tell their player friends about it. Gone are the days when you see a young man who doesn't care about that, those things which are so unimportant. Che in this movie has heart, integrity, and ultimately, something players lack, individuality. This is why he became the revolutionary that he did, and you see it at the end of the film. His player friend sees it too. He dared to care so deeply that at times, it was painful to watch in the film. It changed people. It challenged the rules. It was inspiring to see the way he affected people with his quiet, genuine demeanor.
But and this is where the movie is so subtle that I bet many people missed it, it doesn't judge Che. It doesn't preach to us about who he was. It doesn't even tell us what Che found so inspiring in this journey that made him want to change things. The director and/or writer leaves that up to the viewer. The movie could've been about a couple friends on a journey, just as the quote at the beginning of the movie and the end of the movie says. That's beautiful, so generously unassuming, so gracious.
I don't know the history of Che Guevara. This movie made me want to find out more though. Still, I'm amazed at the similarities between Che and Christ now that I think about it. Che seems, in many ways, a Christlike figure to South Americans. That could start an entirely different tangent, of which I'll not expound.
With that, the end of Indiana Jones "The Last Crusade" comes to mind. Indy's got to decide which cup is the Holy Grail. Most Hollywood movies are the first cup that is chosen. And while this one may not be the Holy Grail, it's inspiring of things Christlike, humility, tenderness, generosity, intelligence, and forgiveness. Why? Because these things are important, they inspire people, and change the world.
Che Guevara. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ghandi. (the list goes on)
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