An Phoblacht 2 - 2022 small

9 September 2004 Edition

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A film for all seasons: Film Review - Motor Cycle Diaries


Directed by Walter Salles

It was November 2001 and as we sat in a packed cinema watching the Fellowship of the Ring, the first installment in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, it seemed that he had created a film spectacular in depth, scale and one that so aptly characterised the feeling of the time.

In the months after 9-11, Tolkien's vision of a titanic battle for Middle Earth where the fate of humanity was on a precipice it seemed that two years was too long to wait for the second and third parts of the trilogy.

By the time the credits closed on Return of the King the final episode in the trilogy, the moment was lost and Tolkien's tale just became a good film, excellent special effects and another well crafted Oscar contender.

As I watched Walter Salles Motorcycle Diaries last weekend it was clear to me that another much more important and lasting trilogy needed to be made. Motorcycle Diaries should be the first installment in the trilogy of Che Ernesto Guevara's life story. The second and third accounts would be his Episodes of the Revolutionary War, documenting the liberation of Cuba followed by Che's Bolivian Diary, the harrowing tale of a revolution lost.

These would be films for all time that would document a life experience that transcends time as one person's journey from young adult to revolutionary offers a salutary insight on humanity that needs to be told.

While all of this might sound a little worthy and over the top it doesn't take away from the fact that Motorcycle Diaries is an excellent film. Essentially it is the story of two young men Ernesto and Alberto who embark on a 10,000km plus journey through South America.

Both are facing into the prospects of a settled life in the professional classes, Ernesto as a doctor and Alberto as a biochemist. As the weeks and months go by and the pair travel through Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru and further north it slowly dawns on them the scale of misery and oppression being meted out to the ordinary people they meet on the way.

All of this happens against the backdrop of the extraordinary beauty and diversity of the landscape of South America, this 'middle earth' is also a beautiful but oppressive place.

Salles play of the landscape against Che's narrative works excellently and with so much visual beauty it seems implausible to Che and the viewer that there could be so much misery and injustice.

Both Gael Garcia and Rodrigo De la Serna turn in excellent performances as Che and Alberto and respectively.

There are no special effects in this story, just the spectacularly filmed true story of two men who grew up over a journey together and realised that there was a lot to do to live in the world today and find meaning and peace with yourself in it.

It took Salles five years to make this film. Lets hope we are not left waiting as long for the next two installments.

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