Ernesto "Che" Guevara has always been a fascinating figure to me. His actions and the public's view of him has always made me love the myth of him, but hate the man. Che has somewhat been a hero to left leaning souls who romanticize his revolutionary tactics. It's not surprising as those with a more conservative bent in the US view our own revolutionary forefathers as the ethical equivalent of Jesus. Strangely those who idolize our founding fathers and their work hold a sympathy for the Confederates, the same folks who fought against the foundation of our Republic.
Che was a despicable person regardless of his economic views. He was only interested in justice for those who agreed with him and his brutal armed struggle. Che's claim that if the Soviet missiles located in Cuba were under his direct control, he would've launched them, believing that crushing American imperialism would've been worth "millions of atomic war victims."
Liking Guevara's legacy seems to be the trend, even though in the end he failed in his global conquest to spread his brand of communism and unite Latin America under it's principles. That's no surprise as America is known for rooting for the under dog. Of course the irony that kids wear his image on t-shirts made in sweat shops to be sold in Hot Topic amuses me to no end.
This brings me to "Che", the two part film by Steven Soderbergh. The first part chronicles Che's part in the Cuban revolution against the Batistas. The second and equally long part unravels his failed attempt to take down the Bolivian government, which he paid the ultimate price for.
The movie is told through the Guevara's eyes and is largely based on his own writings, which consequently makes him look like a saint instead of the complicated revolutionary. I was saddened by this approach as autobiographies are largely more fiction than fact and leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to objectivity. The story moves along at a snails pace at times and one could only wonder if the editor was ordered to leave every single piece of footage in, for good or ill.
Flaws and all I loved it, mostly because of Benecio Del Toro's amazing performance as the former Argentinian revolutionary. He made me believe he knew Che personally, and had all his mannerisms masterfully imitated. I enjoyed the story as it's an interesting take on a piece of history I find fascinating, but those who don't share that interest will hardly be drawn to learning more about it when watching this. Mostly they'll have trouble keeping their eyelids open.
"If Soderbergh's ambition was to make us feel just how dull it would be to a woods-dwelling communist guerrilla, he succeeded." - Mick LaSalle