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"The Motorcycle Diaries" - Screening @ deciBel

I grew up surrounded by teenagers wearing T-shirts with ‘Che’ Guevara face stamped on them. It is undeniable that he is one of the most iconic ‘political’ figures of our time, so much so that I often had the feeling that the people walking around with the ‘Che’ face on their torsos might have not truly known who he was. He has become (unfortunately) a logo, an icon out of context.

That is probably why when Walter Salles’s film “The motorcycle diaries” was released in cinemas in 2004 I stayed as far away from it as I could. I did not want to sit through almost 2 hours of yet another romanticized, pop culture packaged account of the Argentinean revolutionary.

I was wrong. The film, based on the homonymous book by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and on Aberto Gustavo’s “Travels with Che Guevara”, narrates the gap year trip that Guevara (at the time nicknamed ‘Fuser’ not ‘Che”) undertook when he was 22 years old with his long time friend Alberto Gustavo.

The two young men’s plan was to cross the South American continent, from Argentina, through the Andes, into Chile, then to Peru and end in Venezuela. It was 1952, there were no Lonely Planet guidebooks neither backpackers.

What started as a young-men adventure slowly turned into a character formation experience for both of them. As many historians have put it, it is through the people he encountered, the situations of extreme poverty and the abuse of capitalism that he witnessed that Guevara decided to leave medicine and choose the path of a political life.

Salles does justice to the Diaries, he takes the audience through the route’s steps, showing the beautiful sceneries that ‘Che’ might have seen with his own eyes, sharing jokes among the two travelers and parts of experiences that he went through. It is a crescendo, the director cleverly doesn’t tell you what might have been running through Guevara’s mind however you can feel that something is changing in him; until he arrives in Chile, where he finds himself enraged by the working conditions of the miners in Anaconda's Chuquicamata mine, and he screams to the mine’s boss “Can’t you see that this people are thirsty? Give them some water, damn it!”

Gael Garcia Bernal (Amores perros, Y tu mama tambien, Bad education) does a brilliant job in portraying the revolutionary leader; his performance is intense, charismatic and human.

“The motorcycle diaries’ is a heartfelt and thoughtful account not only of Guevara's road trip but also of the socio-economical situation of the South American people of that time.

(English Subtitles)

Entrance fee: FREE 


Wednesday, 2nd October


Decibel | 79 Phan Kế Bính, Đa Kao, Quận 1