August 1st: All the way Che

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158. The Motorcycle Diaries (Walter Salles, 2004)

The South American cinema boom in the last decade has produced some refreshing and excellent film. Walter Salles has been around the Brazilian film scene for some time but this film represents his first in a language other than Portuguese (Spanish) and also his biggest success financially. It’s the story of a road trip taken by a young medical student Ernesto Guevara and his older friend Alberto Granado. The trip, taken in 1951, was initially on motorcycle but that soon changes as they travel around the continent of South America.

What makes a revolutionary? What is it that occurs in the mind of a person that forces them down a particular road in life? The Motorcycle Diaries is essentially the story of these formative experiences as Ernesto sees life beyond the borders of his middle class upbringing. He witnesses the cruelties and oppression that people undergo through the different countries. Salles frames these crucial moments as black and white memories, postcards of people and their circumstances. These are the formative moments that trigger Ernesto’s burgeoning socialist ideology and what will eventually lead him to become the ‘Che’ Guevara we know.

The Motorcycle Diaries is a moving story about friendship, Ernesto and Alberto are engaging and funny and the script and performances are pitched well enough so that you feel comfortable in their company.

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