Saturday, November 06, 2004
'Motorcycle Diaries' powerful, inspiring
It's just another road movie, except it has the power to change your life.
Before the beret, before he became the Latin American guerrilla leader known as Che, before he was executed, before clueless college kids started wearing his picture on T-shirts, Argentina-born Ernesto Guevara wasn't so different from other twentysomethings. He had an eye for the ladies and was hungry for adventure. And so, in 1952 Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado hopped on a single, rickety motorcycle and set out on an eight-month tour of South America.
As dramatized in "Motorcycle Diaries" ("Diarios de motocicleta") Guevara and Granado suffer lots of hardships: no food, no money, bad bike spills (once they drive into a cow). They pass through the desert and through terrible snow. On the other hand, they see some of the most amazing scenery in the world. They grow so close they seem like an old married couple. Most importantly, the pair meet dozens of indigenous people along the way. They learn how there are no jobs to be found nor medical care, how communists disappear and the isolated lives lepers lead.
Guevara (played by Gael Garcia Bernal, possibly the most talented and beautiful actor in the world) and Granado (Rodrigo De la Serna, who's as talented if not as guapo) are transformed from boys to men by the sights they've seen. With his expressive face Bernal seems to show us the moment when Guevara turned into a revolutionary determined to rescue the poor of the earth.
In one of the last scenes in the film, we see Guevara trying to cross a deep, swiftly moving river. Even when his asthma kicks in and he can hardly breathe, he keeps on trying to get across - perhaps a worthy metaphor for his life.
At the Grandin Theatre. In Spanish, with English subtitles. Rated R for language. Two hours, eight minutes.