Sunday, October 11, 2009


Right from the opening image, his black army boot, up to his lit cigar with smoke floating about, to that wiry and distinct black beard, Benico was everything that was the iconic man, Che. Lynn and I meet at Nova yesterday for the Guevara feast that is Che Part 1: The Argentine and Part 2: Guerrilla.

With that opening scene, I whispered to Lynn that I'd loved it already!

I was to see this for MIFF in August, but life got in the way. Having heard mixed reviews about it, Lynn and I had a pre-movie marathon coffee and discussed our low expectations. Although both acknowledging that our Cuban travels would outweigh anything average about the two movies, and then Del Toro can really do no wrong!

Part 1 was really the highlight for me, which was Cuba. A film to totally sweep you up in the man, his ethics and humanity, and his plight. Jumping around a bit to give you the history lesson that goes with the story of the Cuban Revolution, the UN Assembly speech is particularly strong. But it's the doctor and the man that it totally enchanting....treating his wounded men, and the peasants and their families, setting an example for his troops, and his high personal standards....amazing.

But then the scenes taking him wheezing through the jungle, with his asthma, are just heart breaking, and warming all at once. The politics, and how Che came to be Fidel's right hand man, is so impressive. Soderberg had the tension build, and build, and build, and even knowing where it was going, and how the fight would end, this film caught all the romanticism that is Che and Cuba's triumph.

A movie marathon break between the two films, Lynn and I walked across Lygon Street to Tiamo Cafe, and put the staff on a challange to serve us red wine and pizza in our strict schedule....with success.

Part 2 skipped forward to Che smuggling himself into Bolivia, training his army, and working on gaining the same political freedom he had won for Cuba to his homeland. This half is perhaps where the bad reviews about too much time walking through the jungle, which didn't necessary bother me, although unlike the first, it was a little tougher to keep each character straight in my head. It may also have been the wine, and the 5 hours of beautiful, young and then aging, Benico!

The complete movie Che, in 2 parts, has only increased my love of Cuba, and makes me want to return as soon as possible! The admiration of Che, the Revolution, and Cuba has been stirred and fed again!

The heartbreak of his death, knowing, again, where we were heading, but then still being stunned by seeing it play out in front of us. I don't know how accurate the final scenes are, and I had thought they weren't sure how it all ended (and it took an age to locate and return his body to rest in Santa Clara in the heart of Cuba), but I will never get that image of his execuation out of my head. And the irony of his body being airlifted out by an American helicoper, after all the fight for the greater freedom. The sadness!

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