Today saw the first part of Soderberg’s Che, a long, curiously unengaging film that follows Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra guerilla campaign from 1955 to the entry into Havana in January 1959. Benicio Del Toro performs impressively, looking amazingly like the real Che. The film is evidently well-researched and has a documentary feel to it. However, it doesn’t offer any understanding of what motivated an Argentinian doctor to fight in the mountains of Cuba to overthrow the repressive Batista regime. It maybe that wasn’t Soderberg’s intention – something of that had already been revealed in Walter Salles’ Motorcycle Diaries.
Though the film does not glamourise Che or the military actions, I do wonder how much of Che’s character is left out, given this extract from his Wikipedia entry:
Both notorious as a ruthless disciplinarian who unhesitatingly shot defectors and revered by supporters for his rigid dedication to professed doctrines, Guevara remains an admired, 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.
- Observer review: Che Part One
- Rebel without a pause: interesting interview with Soderberg in which he is challenged with some criticisms of the films.
- As hard times bite, Cubans show little appetite for celebration: article by Rory Carroll in the Guardian assessing the state of the Cuban revolution on its 50th anniversary.
- Cuban dictator flees: Alistair Cooke reports in the Guardian, January 2, 1959
- Castro in control of Cuba: Alistair Cooke reports in the Guardian, January 3, 1959
- Wikipedia: Che Guevara