The Motorcycle Diaries
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo De La Serna, Mia Maestro
Gael Garcia Bernal is Ernesto (Che) Guevara, travelling the continent of South America in his youth with his friend Alberto Granado (Rodrigo De La Serna). The two meet while Ernesto is a Medical student wanting to visit a leprosy hospital and see more of the world along the way. The start of their travels is on a rather battered-looking motorbike known as 'the mighty one', hence the title of the film, despite the fact that a lot of their journey is by river or on foot.
"let the world change you....and you can change the world"
The film is in Spanish with subtitles and classed, in my opinion, very much as an 'arty' film, with cheesy idealistic principles and moral lessons overflowing (see above), not to mention the obligatory half of the film simply viewing the two friends on the bike from behind travelling along some dirt, falling over, starting again, falling over....and so on. The director Walter Salles seems to appreciate this home-video style repetitive shot and merely sticks together many sections of the same type of thing to indicate time and distance passing on. This is all very well once in a while but I am not exaggerating when I say it feels like half your time in the cinema is spent seeing that bike's back tyre.
Fundamentally this is the true tale of the travels which piqued Che's interest in the destitute of South America and led to his revolutionary adventures. Therefore it is no surprise when the people they meet are undergoing severe hardship and oppression. If you have communist sympathies this is fine but I don't appreciate films trying to be involved in politics. As a film to entertain, which is how I personally like my films, this little tale is mostly lacking in interest. The characters are nicely built (understandable as they were/are real people) and the dialogue occasionally verges on amusing, but not much of consequence actually happens throughout the rather lengthy adventure. You never know what effect the emotional impact of Ernesto's relationship with Chichina had, as that tiny bit of interest is left unattended. The travellers meet a guy walking some oxen pulling a cart and you get excited that something at last might happen, but no, they say hello and the scene cuts back to that back tyre.
One of the most amusing things I have seen written about this film was actually the final comment on the IMDB webpage, which says 'if you found this film good, also watch:'
wait for it....
Now please, even those of you who liked this film, please tell me I'm not insane for finding that hysterically entertaining.
I can see how some people are fascinated by this film and praise it's outstanding values and statements, but I am not one for having views forced at me through the medium of cinema and frankly if people overlook the intended artiness of the film, they will find it is mostly just boring.
The film's explanation of itself, before the inevitable and disappointing final white on black 'Ernesto went on to....., Alberto went on to.....', is 'Two lives running parallel for a while'. I wish my life had not run parallel to this film for those 128 minutes, it would have been better spent re-watching Evita, which, although historically inaccurate, is at least entertainment.