Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nobody is going home on leave. We have only won the war. The revolution has just begun.

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Ernesto "Che" Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary who was essentially Fidel Castro's number two guy. He helped lead the revolution in Cuba, was a great tactical leader, a poet, doctor, theorist and a man who stood for justice. Whether or not people liked Fidel Castro, everybody loved Che. Even today I see Americans and Latinos alike all wearing Che's picture on their clothes. He stood for justice and he stood for revolution. Guerrillero Heroico, a photograph of Che has been called and voted the greatest photograph of all time. So it would come to noone's surprise that he would be the topic of many pop culture references. Songs have been written about him, books have been written and his picture can be found in countless numbers of movies. He wasnt named in Time's 100 most influential people of the 20th century for nothing. He was loved, feared, hated and he was important.

In 1997 a documentary on Che Guevara was made and Benicio Del Toro, who loved Che and was going to play Che even before the movie was announced, picked up the rights. But after two years of shopping for a director and writer for a new film, a more traditional tale of Che, Del Toro and the producers went hunting for research. They met with people who knew Che through all parts of his life, read all the books on Che, met his widow and even met Fidel Castro himself and talked with him. Finally, after getting all the info they could find, getting Steven Soderbergh to direct, and finding all diary entries and journal entries and postcards ever sent by Che, they started shooting in 2006.

The film was going to be an epic. The story of Che is the story of one of Cuba's biggest heroes. Its the story of a man bigger than life. Its essentially the story of Cuba as a country itself. So instead of just making a two hour movie, they made a 268 minute long movie split into two distinct parts.

The first part is called "The Argentine" and follows Che's early life as a revolutionary, meeting Fidel Castro and staging a massive coup. It shows Fidel and Che winning the Cuban Revolution but, stating the quote above, the war may have been won but the revolution was just getting started. The Argentine is shot in more Hollywoodistic style, very big colors, cranes, stedicams, cut aways, long voice overs and big special effects.

The second part is "Guerrila" is about Che's time in Bolivia and his undercover guerrila warfare he did there when he was trying to help the people. The film is told in days with the last day being the day when he was finally executed. Its split up with title cards and is shot in a much more simple hand held style. Very indie feeling.

The story is massive but is easy to summarize. In 268 minutes they tell the life story of Che beginning with the revolution. Its shot in two distinct ways, both extremly well done and very fun to watch. Like Doctor Zhivago and Lawerence of Arabia, this is a big epic with a lot to say.

The acting is awesome. Benicio Del Toro IS CHE. His acting is so good that I really do believe that that 10 minute standing ovation at the Marxist theatre in Cuba was neccessary. He is brilliant as Che and ecompasses the life of a great man. Whether or not you like Che or have ever even heard of Che, this is an amazing movie that everyone should see. Yeah its over four hours long but if you got the time than this is a must see film.


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