Che: Parts 1 & 2 (2008) directed by Steven Soderbergh

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

An astoundingly complete, gorgeously shot rendition of the key moments in military campaigns participated in by revolutionary Ernesto Guevara, known by his nickname Che. These two films examine his first experiences of war in Cuba and his last attempts in Bolivia. Steven Soderbergh’s two part epic is a complex film that, while unsentimental, is certainly very kind to its subject. Benicio Del Toro is magnificent as Che, in a quiet, peaceful performance, but he is surrounded by an even greater cast, if you can believe it. The actors playing his closest companions, up to and including Fidel Castro are amazing. They feel real. At time it feels like a documentary crew went back in time with modern cameras and captured the events as they happened. Soderbergh adds to the realistic cinema verite feel of the film with the handheld camera work, which he shot himself. Part One shows Guevara’s militarization and burgeoning relationship with Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro as they put together a rag tag group of men to overthrow the Cuban government in a historical revolution. The seeds were planted and all Che wanted to do was free people from what he deemed to be oppressive governments, by any and all means. He was an uncompromising man with many faults, faults which popular history tends to gloss over, including this film. His more violent side, indifferent to the value of an individual’s life in the name of the greater goal, is only shown in tiny segments. Above all, these are finely detailed films about guerilla warfare and the new kind of Communism arising in South America in the 1950’s and early 60’s. They’re done in great, impressive detail with little concern for sensationalism or entertainment value. Over and above all, they are informative dramatizations of historically significant events and to that end the films are exemplary. It is too bad that Hollywood fears non-commercial stories, as it seems far too few people have seen this engrossing, topical epic.

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