The Motorcycle Diaries

I just came back from Cuba, where I saw Che Guevera’s face plastered everywhere, even in the most unlikely places: in the middle of the countryside with nothing around for miles, a piece of cardboard, or planks, anywhere that could be drawn or painted on, basically. All I knew about him is that he was a revered man, so you can imagine my thrill after stumbling onto the new biographical film Motorcycle Diaries by chance last night.

When we hear the word ‘Revolution’, a thousand images fill our minds. A few months back I told a friend that I knew how to fight for everyone else’s injustices but my own. Motorcycle Diaries reaffirms my belief that anyone can make a difference if they commit themselves to the greater good of this world.

The Robert Redford-produced film is structured as a chronicle of a young man whose view of the world is broadened by his travels through South America. He finds a common thread wherever he goes: there is too much injustice and pain in the world. Ernesto “Che” Guevara not only discovered the forgotten civilizations — he discovered himself, and his mission. His story is told at a time in his life when he struggled with the strongest moral issues, before they turned thoroughly political, according to actor Gael Garcia Bernal, who does a splendid job portraying the young radical.

This is, in my view, an outstanding movie, and one that preserves the ancestral cultural pride of the South American and Central American nations it represents. Very few movies have had an impact of this calibre on me; it is moving, inspirational and powerful. Not since Frida has a film been able to capture and hold my thoughts and spirit this way.

10 Responses

  1. Che it Ain’t SoJust tell me
    Che it Ain’t So

    Just tell me exactly what greater good Che comitted himself to?

    The movie ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ is a pure latin-american leftist wet dream. In real life, according to most biographies you read, Che was a man who believed in the glory of violence and war. He executed men without trial, and never questioned his own belief in the hopeless abstraction of communism. Have you actually read the motorcycle diaries? The impression I got of the guy is that he never spent a lot of time caring about other people. All the words he uses in the diaries are abstractions, and he thinks in boxes. I sincerely doubt that Che had any humanitarian feeling for poor coal miners or anyone else. People are ‘workers’, suffering ‘injustice’ perpetrated by the ‘Yankees’. It’s the complete opposite of literature.

    But in the film you admire, Che is presented as an idealistic young man, without any faults at all. Gee, he sure looks like a nice young handsome fella, doesn’t he? He musta never had a thought for himself.

    I too, have gotten back from a trip which included parts of South and Central America. While many of the popular movements in that part of the world are indisputably important, there are still too many people dreaming of future utopias, and drawing lines between and around everyone. But there is no left or right, there’s only up and down. Maybe instead of revering concepts and people, you should rely on your own experience.

    I guess I have to answer my own question – what greater good did Che commit himself to? Well, the revolution brought many long needed changes to Cuba – reforming the economy was the main thing. Che also oversaw the torture and execution of hundreds of people in Cuban prisons, and the murder of peasants in places visited by his guerrilla forces. The government that Che helped bring in to Cuba also oppressed homosexuals, and even to this day locks up those who would dare campaign for democracy.

    I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the guy who fantasised about an ‘effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine’.

    But hell, he does look good on a T-shirt, don’t he?

  2. Well, coolazice, there
    Well, coolazice, there probably is truth in what you say — at the same time I think you are probably overstating the case in that Che has definitely inspired many people for many decades. South American politics of the last hundred years doesn’t make anybody look good — wouldn’t you agree?

  3. The reason I found the film
    The reason I found the film inspiring, is not because of the person he later became, but because of the transformation that was well captured on film, as well as the cultural pride that serves as a last stand against oppression. I am not trying to idolize him, nor am I turning a blind eye to the part he played in the revolution. I guess after having seen what I did, I was trying to understand from their point of view, why these people revered him, why they proudly displayed him as you said, on a t-shirt. (which I didn’t buy, incidentally).

  4. Don’t know much about the
    Don’t know much about the man, haven’t even seen the movie.

    What I do respect about the man is the books they found on him after they killed him.

  5. for every thousand poeple
    for every thousand poeple screaming REVOLUTION there is one saying evolution.

  6. Like all warriors he was
    Like all warriors he was pro-killing and prepared to die for his beliefs. Apparently the CIA took care of that. He also had a falling out with Castro after the Cuban revolution whihc is why he went back to S. America to find another “pure” cause to fight for. You suggest he was somehow responsible for the failure of Communism in Cuba to end up as a greater good for the people. Castro was calling the shots. Che was no angel for sure but his legacy is as a freedom fighter albeit with noticable chinks in his armor. I can see someting admirable about that.

  7. Only in the moviesHollywood
    Only in the movies

    Hollywood — and Sundance too — paint a slightly distorted picture of facts. I’m a fan of Che’s for his work as a freedom fighter. The movie doesn’t explain how he ended up supporting Castro’s version of Communism in Cuba which turned out to be “iffy” at best and horrible for many. Maybe as he got older, his ideals started to erode some. I don’t know enough about Che to say anything more than I think he was a man who stood by his convictions and may have beed misguided by some who had stronger convictions. The movie did make an impression on me. I think it’s interesting there is still so much reverence for him down there.

  8. che is a murdererI am not
    che is a murderer

    I am not trying to insult anyone; however, Che is a murderer. If he is preserving the ancestral pride of south america, then hitler was doing so in germany, and stalin was in russia. How do I know? Aside from being a student of history, my father in law was tortured by him in Cuba. This movie is akin to chronicling Hitler’s art school attempts and romanticizing them, as explorations of his ideals while ignoring the result.

  9. I am sure some people do
    I am sure some people do actually see Hitler as a folk hero of sorts. I don’t. But neither do I see Che as equally diabolical as Hitler.

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