Steven Soderbergh did it again! Che Part 1 and Part 2 are based on Guevara’s memoir “Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War”
Soderbergh’s attempt to capture the memoir of one of the famous Marxists in the world with bit of flash backs and black and white scenes is worth to see. I didn’t even notice the long duration of 2 hours as the film kept attract my attention. I admit I haven’t read the memoir itself, but this film convinced me. As Benicio del Toro convinced me being Che Guevara.
The film opens with an interview with Che, a female interviewer asked him questions in English, he replied in Spanish, afterwards a following scene with coughing Che in a jungle during the Guerrilla War. Then it changes to a scene of a dinner party somewhere in Mexico where Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara meets Fidel Castro for the first time (for the ladies, pay good attention to Brazilian actor Rodrigues Santoro who plays Raúl Castro, Fidel’s brother, he’s a joy to look at). Damián Bechir (FidelCastro) caused me fully recognition to the real Fidel, due to his, sometime exaggerating, arm movements to imitate el Comandante himself.
The plot in brief: this film is about the 26 July Movement, lead by Fidel Castro, to regain Cuba back from by performing Guerrilla War in 1959, from the cross over with only 82 people on board in 1956 to the conquer of Santa Clara in 1959. Soderbergh attached some (original) scenes of the American’s channel CBS Interview with Guevara (with an unrecognizable Julia Ormond as the interviewer) when he visited New York City to address the United Nations in 1964.
You can see how the Guerrilla movement had gained more and more sympathy amongst the locals while Batista’s government failed to control the safety of the region. El Doctor Guevara fought (with a cigar in one hand and a riffle in the other) & looked after the wounded ones. At the same time he fought against illiteracy in his troops – he taught fellow Guerrillos how to read and write – cause he believed Sín Educaccíon no hay Revoluccíon (without education there’s no revolution). Other slogans the Guerrillos shouted in the movie were ‘El Cuba Libre para Los Cubanos’ (Free Cuba for the Cubans) and ‘Patría o muerte’ (Father land or dead).
Mind you that this doesn’t represent who Guevara really was. I mean, it is based on his own memoir. As quoted from Wikipedia English version ‘Both notorious as a ruthless disciplinarian who unhesitatingly shot defectors and revered by supporters for his rigid dedication to professed doctrines, Guevara remains a controversial and significant historical figure. As a result of his perceived martyrdom, poetic invocations for class struggle, and desire to create the consciousness of a “new man” driven by “moral” rather than “material” incentives, Guevara evolved into a quintessential icon of leftist-inspired movements’. Guevara admitted executing people in the name of Revolution but didn’t show remorse. He was also well known as anti homosexuality. This side of Che you can’t find in the movie.
90 % of the dialogues is in Spanish and 10 % in English. Funny how Cubans don’t pronounce the S properly. So they call Erneto instead of Ernesto, Algo Má? instead of Algo Más? (means Anything Else?).
Those of you who have seen Motorcycle Diary, this movie can fulfill the curiosity of what Guevara did after the end of the Motorcycle Diary. Che Part 1 ends after the conquer of Santa Clara. In Santa Clara Guevara met Almeida March, a fellow guerrilla member, with whom he would marry as his second wife a couple of years later. The location where the train of Batista troops was attacked is now a memorial monument. The last scene is when The Guerrillos marched after the conquer to Havana.
I will surely review Che Part 2 next time.