Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Motorcycle Diaries

This post was inspired by Gaurav's posts on Che - this PJ and then a more sombre one.

I have long been a fan of the movie 'The Motorcycle Diaries' - the movie was based on Che Guevara's autobiographical book of the same name, and had some breathtaking locales as well as some fine acting by Gael Garcia Bernal (who did a such a great job in Amores Perros, which inspired Mani Ratna to make Yuva). I have seen it quite a few times, and kep discovering new subtle directorial touches every time I see it again.

The movie traces the adventures of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado as they embark on a motorcycle tour of South America. Initially, they just have fun chasing girls and ripping off naive farmers. The bike they travel on breaks down quite frequently, adding quite a bit of hilarity to the proceedings. Ultimately they are forced to sell the bike, and this is when the movie takes a serious turn. The director brilliantly captures the political unrest in Peru, the sad remnants of the Incan culture and the San Peblo leper colony - Che's eyes flashing with resentment, compassion and a hidden rage.

It is difficult to believe that the Ernesto depicted in this movie went on to become the feared guerrilla leader. Che was one of Fidel Castro's most dreaded executioners, and has almost become a capitalist brand now. It was Che who espoused 'hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine'. There's no room for doubt that whatever traces of the quiet, wide-eyed lad (shown in the movie) that existed in the revolutionary Che had vanished long ago. This makes the movie all the more interesting, as a study of how a man could change so much (small scenes here and there hint at the element of violence in Ernesto).

Go ahead and watch the movie; and as Gaurav puts it, learn more about the man.

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