A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.
Benicio Del Toro,
In 1965, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara resigns from his Cuban government posts to secretly make his latest attempt to spread the revolution in Bolivia. After arriving in La Paz, Bolivia late in 1966, by 1967, Che with several Cuban volunteers, have raised a small guerrilla army to take on the militarist Bolivian movement. However, Che must face grim realities about his few troops and supplies, his failing health, and a local population who largely does not share the idealistic aspirations of a foreign troublemaker. As the US supported Bolivian army prepares to defeat him, Che and his beleaguered force struggle against the increasingly hopeless odds.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 »
At his execution, Che was shot a total of nine times, not three as shown in the movie. See more »
Lyrics by Manuel José Castilla
Music by Gustavo Leguizamon
Performed by Mercedes Sosa
Courtesy of Universal Music
Copyright (c) by Lagos Editorial (Warner/Chappell Music Argentina) See more »
Radio Rebelde / Radical Writings on Guerilla Warfare
It helps to know that this was originally brought to life as a Terrence Malick screenplay about Che's disastrous forray in Bolivia. Financing fell through and Soderbergh stepped in to direct. He conceived a first part and shot both back to back as one film trailing Che's rise and fall.
He retained however what I believe would be Malick's approach: no politics and a just visual poem about the man behind the image, exhaustive as the horrible slog through Cuban jungles and windswept Andean plateaus must have been. Malick applied this to his New World that he abandoned Che for, lyrical many times over.
But Soderbergh being an ambitious filmmaker, he puzzled over this a little more. Here was a man of action at the center of many narratives about him, some fashioned by himself, conflictingly reported as iconic revolutionary or terrorist, charismatic leader or ruthless thug, erudite Marxist thinker or brutal soldier.
So how to visually exemplify this contradicting ethos as our film about him? And how to arrange a world around this person in such a way as to absorb him whole, unfettered from narrative - but writing it as he goes along - off camera - but ironically on - and as part of that world where narratives are devised to explain him. As flesh and bones, opposed to a cutout from a history book.
One way to do this, would be via Brecht and artifice. The Korda photograph would reveal lots, how we know people from images, how we build narratives from them. Eisenstein sought the same in a deeper way, coming up with what he termed the 'dialectical montage': a world assembled by the eye, and in such ways as the eye aspires to create it.
So what Soderbergh does, is everything by halves: a dialectic between two films trailing opposite sides of struggle, glory and failure, optimism and despair. Two visual palettes, two points of view in the first film, one in the presence of cameras hoping to capture the real person, the other were that image was being forged in action.
The problem, is of course that Brecht and Eisenstein made art in the hope to change the world, to awaken consciousness, Marxist art with its trappings. By now we have grown disillusioned with the idea, and Soderbergh makes no case and addresses no present struggles.
But we still have the cinematic essay about all this.
The first part: a narrative broadcast from real life, meant to reveal purpose, ends, revolution. The second part: we get to note in passing a life that is infinitely more expansive than any story would explain, more complex, beautiful, frustrating, and devoid of any apparent purpose other than what we choose as our struggle, truly a guerilla life.
I imagine a tremendous film from these notions. Just notice the remarkable way Part 2 opens. Che arrives at Bolivia in disguise, having shed self and popular image. No longer minister, spokesman, diplomat, guerilla, he is an ordinary man lying on a hotel bed, one among many tourists. Life could be anything once more, holds endless possibility. Cessation.
What does he do? He begins to fashion the same narrative as before, revolution again. Chimera this time. Transient life foils him in Bolivia. Instead of changing the world once more, he leaves behind a story of dying for it. We have a story about it as our film, adding to the rest.
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