The image of Che Guevara is seen throughout pop culture as a symbol of revolution. Recent films serve to promote the legend of El Che while downplaying the human flaws the historical figure possessed. This is evident in Che: Part 1. Staring and produced by Benicio Del Toro, the film is by all accounts a labor of love and as such shows the truth behind the legendary figure while glossing over the parts of Ernesto Guevara’s life that are not as flattering.
Del Toro’s Che was shown as a steadfast hero unyielding in his actions. However, the historical Guevara was not a radical for as long as the film made him seem. According to Eric Zolov, Guevara’s time in Mexico was fairly apolitical, not searching out political figures as he had in other countries. Guevara went so far as to say in his journal “I haven’t met anyone interesting these days, and it seems that I never will if I keep this life up.” This somewhat apathetic attitude remained until his chance meeting with Fidel Castrol through his brother Raul. It was through this meeting that Guevara discovered his calling as a revolutionary and the popular image of Che began to emerge.
Guevara was also presented as a moral person, engaging in illegal acts only when essential to further the cause of the revolution. Though the killing of the Cuban military was seen as necessary, it was shown as a regrettable act. This application of ethics is also shown when Guevara asks some of the guerilla fighters where they found a car they were driving. In discovering that it belonged to a man they had killed, the guerilla fighters were disciplined and ordered to return the vehicle because the theft was unnecessary. The use of needless violence is condemned by Che in his own writing “Guerrilla warfare: A method.” In this essay, Guevara quotes Jose Marti as saying “He who wages war in a country when he can avoid it is a criminal, just as he who fails to promote war which cannot be avoided is a criminal.”
The film goes to great lengths to show how Guevara’s band of guerilla fighters lived in the forests of Cuba. Just as Guevara’s “Guerrilla warfare: A method” dictates, the revolutionaries under his command familiarized themselves with the surroundings and only attacked if they had “relative superiority”.