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Che - Part 1 & 2

Posted Date: 16 October 2009 at 04:12:45PM

CHE, Part 1 and 2

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Demain Bichir, Carlos Bardem
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Release Date - October 2009


The producers of Traffic bring us another epic, gripping movie starring Benicio Del Toro as Ernesto "Che" Guevara.


In Part 1 (1956), we see a young Ernesto join Fidel Castro and 80 rebels as they enter Cuba to become involved in the Cuban Revolution by attacking and overthrowing the military. Ernesto joined as a medic, but soon proved himself as a rebel and guerrilla fighter. Throughout the film we are shown a portrayal of Che, as he becomes known (a fond terminology used between friends in Argentina - his motherland), as a man who is loyal to his cause, has a fire within and will not reap, steal or pillage the peasants. This is a strong sub-plot that results, unfortunately, in death for some soldiers who commit such treason.


Che's unwavering ethic won the hearts and support of many Cubans, as did Fidel Castro, when they eventually overthrew the military and became heroes, to many, of the Cuban Revolution.


The movie is superbly shot, the cinematography enhancing the hard conditions that the soldiers experienced against the Cuban landscape. What keeps the film upbeat are the intermittent black and white scenes of Che in New York. Here we see a different side of him, not the doctor or soldier, but the influential political figure and public speaker. Not to mention, charmer.


The soundtrack is used effectively through to the final scenes. It depicts the era, the location and the feeling that the soldiers involved would have felt. This is a clever use of music when the scenes jump chronologically.


As much as a communist regime would shock many of us today, and has much opposition, this is not the point of view of the movie. The point of this film is Che. To depict him as his comrades saw him. Del Toro does the finest of jobs.


Che is the gentleman, the hero and the unforgiving military commander who believes the penalty for any kind of treason should be death and follows through. Unforgiving? Yes. Passionate about his cause? Absolutely, but is he a brutal and reckless dictator? Not in Soderbergh's portrayal, not at all.


I walked out of the cinema feeling completely satisfied. This story made me feel, it taught a lot, it left me dreamy with an air of admiration and respect for Che or, more likely, Del Toro. The two seemed to have merged into one and this, for any actor, is truly an Oscar moment.


Part 2 is more suspenseful than Part 1, but creeps into what can only be described as an action war film.


Despite an almost identical cast, the two parts of Che are cinematically different. These differences are of absolute importance as they represent two different times in political history, two countries, and two contrasting phases of Che Guevera's life.


He leads a training camp in Bolivia, which takes months and feels like a losing battle from the start. No longer do we see the joviality of soldiers or their burning passion to win. The conditions are tougher, the stakes are higher and luck is not on their side. The whole theme of Part 2 is contrary to the ‘glory of war' we are shown in the earlier movie.


The volatile, harsh Bolivian landscape is highlighted through the pain and suffering of the soldiers and how the poor people actually live. It is a long, hard slog and the viewer can feel it.


We learn that Che was chronically asthmatic. The condition worsens in Bolivia to a point when, as a viewer, you almost want him to give up. Kill his pain, but also your own. Despite this illness, Che does not surrender, nor does he quit smoking. Stubborn you might say, but determined.


It is a sad story of a family man whose beliefs are so strong he will deprive his children of a father and himself of a long and peaceful life. Yet, Che dies a hero in many eyes. The true villain might always remain Castro.


I highly recommend this movie regardless of the public's feelings towards Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. I certainly won't be looking at the wearer of any iconic Che T-shirt in the same way, as they most likely don't even know who or what they are representing. What I do know is that you will be sure to encounter the work of one the most talented actors of our time. Also you may, like me, learn something.

Emily Rickard










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