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Che: Part One (2008)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, History | 24 January 2009 (USA)
In 1956, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and a band of Castro-led Cuban exiles mobilize an army to topple the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Director:

Steven Soderbergh

Writers:

Peter Buchman (screenplay), Ernesto 'Che' Guevara (memoir "Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War")
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Julia Ormond ... Lisa Howard
Benicio Del Toro ... Ernesto Che Guevara
Oscar Isaac ... Interpreter (as Óscar Isaac)
Pablo Guevara Pablo Guevara ... Dinner Guest #1
Franklin Díaz Franklin Díaz ... Dinner Guest #2
Armando Suárez Cobián Armando Suárez Cobián ... Dinner Guest #3
Rodrigo Santoro ... Raúl Castro
María Isabel Díaz Lago María Isabel Díaz Lago ... María Antonia (as María Isabel Díaz)
Demián Bichir ... Fidel Castro (as Demian Bichir)
Mateo Gómez ... Cuban Diplomat #1
Ramon Fernandez ... Héctor (as Ramón Fernández)
Yul Vazquez ... Alejandro Ramírez (as Yul Vázquez)
Jose Caro Jose Caro ... Esteban (as José Caro)
Pedro Adorno Pedro Adorno ... Epifanío Díaz
Jsu Garcia ... Jorge Sotús (as Jsu García)
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Storyline

The Argentine, begins as Che and a band of Cuban exiles (led by Fidel Castro) reach the Cuban shore from Mexico in 1956. Within two years, they mobilized popular support and an army and toppled the U.S.-friendly regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista. Written by anonymous

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Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Benicio Del Toro chose Ryan Gosling to play Benigno 'Beni' Ramírez. Gosling met with the real Ramirez and learned some Spanish to prepare for role. But delays during pre-production caused Gosling to drop out of the project. See more »

Goofs

There is a running camera shot at the UN of national flags, the current Canadian flag is displayed but it was first introduced in 1965, the movie scene is suppose to take place in 1964. See more »

Quotes

[upon hearing that Batista has fled Cuba]
Ernesto Che Guevara: Nobody is going home on leave. We have only won the war. The revolution has just begun.
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Connections

Follows Che (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Oru de Igbodú Para Yemayá: Agayú
Performed by Conjunto de Tambores Batá de Amado Diaz Alfonso
From the recording entitled "Sacred Rhythms of Cuban Santeria, S F40419"
Provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
(c) 1995. Used by Permission
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User Reviews

 
Ambition and what comes with it...
22 November 2008 | by jpschapiraSee all my reviews

So this is what I know. One can trust a director if one likes his/her work, and this trust can be even augmented if the director produces his own work, like the case of Steven Soderbergh with "Che". I like this Soderbergh because he has control over his work, but it's not the only reason. Before, in "Traffic", he showed with his hand-held camera that he knew exactly what he was doing; and that he could do it in several ways (the black and white in "The Good German", to put just an example) and with several genres.

I like Soberbergh because he has style, a defined style; and because he shoots like few directors. In this first part of his "Che", he combines all the forms and styles he has tried when shooting and the result is undoubtedly his most ambitious project, but is it his best? That's a very difficult question that can be treated from different angles and that I'm going to answer with a 'no'.

The movie is Soderbergh's most ambitious work from minute one, throwing in a lot of dates and different places and pictures of newspapers that attempt a quick historical reconstruction. We see Che speaking, in black and white, with people we can't instantly distinguish and Soderbergh's camera wanders through his knee until he finds an icon: Che's cigar. Soon, Guevara is answering questions that have no particular nature but start becoming more precise to define the structure of the film; a confusing ride back and forth in time that revolves around Che but includes a lot of people and a lot of places.

The script, written by Peter Buchman and based on some memoirs of Che himself, clearly seems to be following a faithful reconstruction of the time spent by Che with the Guerilla and the towns he and the army conquered, his relationship with Fidel, the philosophy of life and work he had, his idea of revolution…Yes, it's too many people, too many places, too many things; I told you it was ambitious and it's not the most entertaining ride for a viewer.

"Che, El Argentino" is a good movie because it succeeds in apparently everything it attempts to do, and it's obvious it wasn't a little deal. However, the reason of the word 'apparently' is because I found it difficult to find out exactly what Soderbergh was trying to do. I know and can guess some things: he shot in many places and through different periods of time, therefore his cinematography has merit and his editor Pablo Zumárraga has even more; he shot more action sequences than in any of his previous films and he managed to transmit the crudeness and lack of 'spectacularity' of the confrontations of the time, supported by a precise score by Alberto Iglesias; he explored, visually, his main character from almost every angle anyone could think of and this denotes a firm collaboration with the actors who plays it. In fact, the scenes in black and white, where we can easily see that the only ones working where Del Toro and Soderbergh.

It has to be said: Benicio Del Toro's performance is brilliant, but not entirely because of what you see on screen. Even when his moves and postures express the work of someone who has intensely studied a historical figure and traveled for his purpose and God knows what else, his collaboration with Soderbergh is also crucial. The answers he gives throughout the film and define the structure of it, for example, are clearly recorded in post-production; and even when they help the viewer understand, they loose naturalness. Edition must have helped his work a lot; a work that wins in those moments when his Che is quiet, peaceful. There we understand him better and believe him, but then there are moments when he irradiates pure rage and is so natural and convincing that we wonder where he had kept those emotions the whole time.

So as you see, it's a brilliant work, of contradiction. One could easily judge the performance as bad, because he doesn't sound Argentinean or because he doesn't sound the same in every scene; but that wouldn't be fair, even more if you know the great actor Del Toro is.

Everything I've written takes me back to one question, or two a group of questions lead by: "what was Soderbergh's attempt?". Doing a movie about Che Guevara, an emblematic 'icon' (as the movie mentions in one point) everyone carries around in bags and collars and sometimes can't answer why they're carrying his photographs. Did Soderbergh want to show us who Che was? The real Che? Is it enough with a book written by Che himself to understand his message? And how should he put it on screen? Is this a biopic? A historic movie?

The way I see it, it's all too general. Soderbergh made sure he showed the history and both of Che's sides, the one everyone knows as good and the one that's always referred as bad. It's a good decision, as if Soderbergh wouldn't want to discuss this aspect of his film; as if he wouldn't want to fight anyone. Then why doing the film? Maybe my conclusions are wrong and the second part will tell me something else, but that last question isn't worth asking because "Che" is a good movie; and that's enough.


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Details

Country:

France | Spain | Mexico

Language:

Spanish | English

Release Date:

24 January 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Argentine See more »

Filming Locations:

Campeche, Mexico See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$61,070, 14 December 2008

Gross USA:

$748,555

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$34,209,066
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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