Friday, March 13, 2009

Ernesto Che Guevara

Che: Part Two (Steven Soderbergh, 2008)

ERNESTO CHE GUEVARA is the focus of Steven Soderberg two part biopic Che, a spellbinding film with great exotic locale, amazing acting and immaculate direction. Part 1: The Argentine deals with Che Guevara embarkment with Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolutionist. They journey across the mountainous Cuban landscape recruiting freedom fighters preparing their successful overthrow of Fulgencio Batista dictatorship. Part 2: Guerrilla deals with Mr. Guevara attempt to spread the revolution to Bolivia and idealistically to all of Latin America. Part 1 leads up to 1959 and the fragmented narrative are situated chronologically through titles of date and year. As their gaining more momentum, so does time advance and you get a feeling of progression. Part 2 takes place in 1967 and is more linear. Once Che Guevara arrives in Bolivia there begins a tally of the days he’s been there. As the numbers start reaching the triple digits there is the emergence of a daunting cyclical stasis. Where the guerrilla warfare tactics worked in the Cuban Revolution, and in Part 1 through successful attacks and voice-over narration of theory, in Bolivia they seem unfeasible. Broadly speaking, as a diptych, Part 1 revels in revolution while Part 2 ultimately condemns it. The viewer thus makes his own interpretation of the possibility of revolution. The epic film is an ambitious task on the part of Soderberg. A 235 minutes long film will surely detract a few audience goers. Simultaneously a result of its epic proportions is that it feels cramped. Crammed with too many ideas and events that results the scenes too be cut short, under-developed or not given enough weight. As well like the photograph of Che Guevara that is known as a counter culture popular icon. It is ironic to market it for a consumer culture. Belnicio Del Toro acting is magnificent as he instills awe and rigorous fighting skills during the action sequences while intellect and depth in interviews and at his United Nations speech. Steven Soderberg keeps the tone heavy throughout the film with occasional moment of levity keeping the film focused on its serious subject. His persistence to have the film shot in Spanish makes everything more realistic compared to English speaking Hollywood foreign films. As a whole it is a beautiful portrayal of Cuba and Bolivia countryside and the mind frame and attitude of Ernesto Che Guevara the man Jean-Paul Sartre described as " Not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age ".-David Davidson

Che Part 2: plays at the ByTowne Cinema March 19th to the 22nd. Tickets are $10, $6 for members.

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