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A Man of Revolution

  • May 4, 2009
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Though there are many controversial figured in history Ernesto "Che" Guevara is one of the more notable ones. To many people he is "that guy who put Castro in power." This is only partially true; while Che was a big factor is Castro's successful takeover he was still a small part in a grand revolution. Steven Soderbergh's "Che" is a massive undertaking of a film. At over four hours with multiple camera styles, visual looks, and narratives, this is a film on the scope of the old fashioned roadshow films of the fifties and sixties. Though there is enough difference between filming styles between the two parts that it's easy to consider this two separate films, the truth is this works best as one film told in two parts.

The first half of the film shows Che at his most optimistic and grand point in his life. He is a great leader. Smart, compassionate, and in charge. His first revolution goes by with almost no problems and is a wild success. His second revolution, shown during the second half of the film, is less so. Sporadic, uncontrolled, and aimless, Che seems like a lost child in a country that he clearly doesn't understand. His intentions are good with both efforts though. Though he is blamed with helping a power-hungry dictator get into power, we see through Che's eye's that Castro was a man with a vision. Someone who could help his people. When Che publically denounces Cuba and it's leader we get the sense that he feels responsible for the trouble he helped bring to the world.

We feel he is determined to make the second revolution work properly but, alas, he is weak. He doesn't have the fire in the belly he once had, and so the second revolution ends in his execution. But aside from these epic events "Che" is about the man and the people he lead. They have personalities. They have dreams. Some are motivated by ideals while others are motivated by greed. While Che is a fascinating character (played wonderfully by Benicio Del Toro) we feel more connected to the people he interacts with then with him. One memorable moment comes when Che visits the US. He has to have a translator with him. Since the translator is a young kid he is constantly asking him "if there's anything else you need." Che laughs at this every time, wishing he were that young once again. It's the little moments that make "Che" a great film.

Though there are some pacing problems during the second act that prevents this from being an excellent film I can excuse these moments. Steven Soderbergh is a director who is constantly taking chances and gambling, and this was one of his biggest yet. The project had a lot of interest in Hollywood until Soderbergh decided to film it in Spanish. Once that choice was made the support fled, and Soderbergh made this with help from foreign countries instead. Thankfully he made that gamble because we're not likely to see something as bold and epic as this for a long time.


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May 06, 2009
I was so inspired by Che after I saw The Motorcycle Diaries, does this Che focus at all on his humanitarian work? I had wanted to see it but, four hours asks for that of a Godfather undertaking- a whole day to enjoy. And I didn't know it was in Spanish which would probably have made me go see it more. Thanks for such a great review! You might enjoy @Count_Orlok_22's review of Motorcycle Diaries.
May 07, 2009
Yes, it did focus on some of his humanitarian work. It's a shame that what he attempted to do backfired with Castro, but at least he was a good man at heart.
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Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
Awesome book and history, Good read.
About the reviewer
Kevin T. Rodriguez ()
Ranked #127
Kevin T. Rodriguez is an aspiring film journalist. He's more comfortable typing a review then doing an on-camera appearance, but he loves doing the occasional rant. Whether it be on movies, eBay, or comics, … more
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About this movie


Che is a two-part 2008 biopic about Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro. Rather than follow a standard chronological order, the films offer an oblique series of interspersed moments along the overall timeline. Part Oneis entitled The Argentine and focuses on the Cuban revolution from the landing of Fidel Castro, Guevara and other revolutionaries on Cuba to their successful toppling of the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista two years later. Part Two, entitled Guerrilla, focuses on Guevara's futile attempt to bring revolution to Bolivia and his demise. Both parts are shot in a cinéma vérité style, but each has different approaches to linearnarrativecamerawork, and the visual look; this duality is intended to be reflective of the two military campaigns' divergent outcomes.

Filmmaker Terrence Malick originally worked on a screenplay limited to Guevara's attempts to start a revolution in Bolivia. When financing fell through, Malick left the project, and subsequently Soderbergh agreed to direct the film. He realized that there was no context for Guevara's actions in Bolivia and decided that his participation in the Cuban revolution and his appearance at the United Nations in 1964 should also be depicted....

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Director: Steven Soderbergh
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Steven Soderbergh
Runtime: 4 hours and 20 minutes
Studio: IFC Film
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"A Man of Revolution"
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