Che, Part 1 is a film that was directed by Steven Soderbergh and released in 2008. This movie has a Tarantino-esque style of telling the story of Che Guevara’s involvement in the Cuban Revolution of the late 1950s. The narrative of the film is broken into two parts, the first being Che’s active involvement in leading the guerrilla fighting that took place in the Cuban wilderness, and the second part depicts Che’s 1964 appearance at the United Nations. Che, Part 1 separates the two parts by having the first in color and the second part in black and white. This was done by the filmmakers so as to not confuse the audience, since the two parts are mixed together throughout the movie with little or no warning between switches to either part.
This film’s Che was different from last week’s Che in The Motorcycle Diaries because it depicts the much deeper and darker Che that was both in the midst of guerrilla warfare and in defending his actions before a global audience. The guerrilla warfare aspect of the film is examined very well, because the film depicts Che as a compassionate leader amongst his men and amongst the natives of Cuba. While guerrilla fighting has been coined as “a method of struggle in order to gain an end… the conquest of political power”, it is more important to understand that this form of warfare is not a direct opposite of mass struggle by a people, but that guerrilla warfare is a “people’s warfare”. In other words, and as laid out by Che himself, guerrilla warfare can only succeed with the help and support of the native population, without which guerrilla tactics are not possible (Guerrilla Warfare: A Method).
It was this key fact that lead to the demise of Che himself. In Bolivia, where Che was in the midst of guerrilla warfare to attempt a revolution by the Bolivian people, he was captured and executed with permission from the CIA by their own trained Bolivian soldiers. The failed Bolivian revolution was mainly due to the lack of support by the native population, since the revolution was not supported by the USSR because they were in opposition to legitimate Communist parties and because of US involvement in the Bolivian army. The demise of Che did not have the effect intended by the forces behind his death, though. Fidel Castro said it best in his eulogy on Che: “they who sing victory over his death are mistaken. They are mistaken who believe that his death is the defeat of his ideas, the defeat of his tactics, the defeat of his guerrilla concepts.” (Kornbluh). In other words, you can kill the man, but you can never kill the idea.
And so, it was these actions of Che and Fidel during the Cuban Revolution, the guerrilla fighting and their view of taking down United States imperialism, that made both men such polarizing figures in history. It was their revolution that started the slogan “we will not allow another Cuba” (Marti) because of how they successfully rebelled against American imperialism in Fidel’s home country, and arguably why the US tried even harder throughout the remainder of the Cold War to beat Russia and prevent the spread of Communism in countries like Korea and Vietnam, simply because the United States feared having to deal with more figures like Che.