There is quite a difference in the portrayal of Ernesto “Che” Guevara in the films Motorcycle Diaries and Che, Part 1: The Argentine. In the Motorcycle Diaries, Che is depicted as a free-wheeling youth that craves adventure and helping the poor across Latin America. In Che, Part 1, however, the audience sees a completely different Che – one that has a scraggly beard, is more militaristic and intense, and is less likeable and more direct in his revolutionary efforts.
These films are pretty accurate in depicting the different stages of Che’s life. During his younger years (20’s), Che was searching for what he wanted to do, establishing his political and social beliefs, and gathering as much knowledge as he could through his travels, readings, and connections. By the time Che had reached Cuba with Fidel Castro, he had changed tremendously into a more cynical, militarized revolutionary. This is the Che that is shown in Part 1: The Argentine.
Che Guevara’s transformation happened in an interesting time for Latin America. In the latter 1940s, the 1950s, and the 1960s, it became obvious that the United States was no financial help to any of the Latin American countries after World War II. Che spent a few rather indifferent years in Mexico after coming from Guatemala, and was just about ready to continue his travels to Europe and possibly China when he met Fidel Castro in 1955. During Che’s time in Mexico there were political adjustments happening, along with social unrest. Other Latin American countries, such as Peru, Guatemala, Cuba, and Bolivia were also seeing unrest and revolutions.
Despite being known best for being a revolutionary leader, Che Guevara paid little attention to social and political unrest in Mexico. What continued to manifest itself in his mind, however, was the anti-US notion fueled by the Americans’ financial and economic control of Mexico and little else. Che resided in Mexico during a time when plenty of political exiles were also living in the country, and also well-known bohemian writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. During this time Che worked random jobs and just barely managed to stay afloat financially, as well as juggling a tough relationship with Gadea. Guevara was ready to move on with his life just about the time that he met Castro and completely changed his plans.
It did not take long for Che Guevara and Fidel Castro to sail to Cuba and start their revolution. What the film Che: Part 1 helped show was the way Che and Fidel went about their revolution: lots of guerilla warfare against the US-backed Cuban government. Che wanted to attack all types of imperialism head on, and he saw the United States as the head of the imperialist movement. Che’s guerilla warfare was one that kept on constant move through the Cuban jungle, and counterattacked over time to wear down their opposition. As the film portrayed, the revolutionists continued to wear down the dispassionate Cuban police forces until they overtook towns.
Che was enough of a force that the CIA eventually stepped in and helped assassinate him. From Cuba, Guevara went to Bolivia to try and start another revolution, which was unsuccessful. It was in the Bolivian jungle that Che was assassinated. He is still highly regarded across Latin America and by revolutionaries worldwide to this day.