Che, Part I: The Argentine is a film that portrays aspects of the Cuban Revolution and Ernesto Guevara’s participation in it. The movie chronicles the series of events from his entry into southeastern Cuba through the rebel army’s approach to the capital, Havana. Director Steven Soderbergh’s movie can be judged on its historical accuracy in three major areas: its portrayal of Che Guevara and his attitudes, its display of the tactics used during and the nature of the revolutionaries’ conflicts with the government, and the revolutionaries’ relations with the United States and other countries in the outside world.
Che Guevara had to deal with severe asthma his entire life, and becoming a symbol for revolution in Latin America made the disease especially taxing. The Argentinian dedicated himself to improving his body and expected his fellow revolutionaries to follow suit. Soderbergh vividly displays Che’s devotion to disclipine and his understanding of the physical requirements of being a revolutionary throughout the film. Che, Part I represents the end result of Guevara’s training, which was led by “the Mexican wrestler, Arsacio Vanegas, who had been hired by Fidel Castro to whip” Guevara and other “would-be revolutionaries into shape” (Zolov 268). In the movie, Guevara warns every new recruit of the physical dangers and the trials and tribulations of revolutionary activity. The Argentine commandante clearly has a grasp of what is necessary to carry out a revolt from both a physical and a mental perspective.
Military conflict and its tactics comprised a significant part of the film. The Cuban revolutionaries used a number of guerilla tactics in order to overcome the significant discrepancy between their forces and those of Batista and the Cuban government. In his description of guerilla warfare, Guevara declares that the “people’s forces can win a war against the army” and that “in the underdeveloped parts of America, the battleground for armed struggle should in the main be the countryside.” Both of these aspects of guerilla warfare were presented in the film by Soderbergh. In the movie, those that applied for service under Guevara were usually illiterate, unprepraed, and ill-equiped. They were generally farmers or other individuals from the working class, so the film certainly portrayed Castro’s forces as being comprised of the ordinary people of Cuba. As for the locale of the conflicts, Soderbergh depicted conflict for the most part taking place in the cities, but Castro’s armies traveled through the jungle and countryside for the majority of the movie. In addition to the short conflict that took place near the beginning of the movie in the countryside, other battles were implied throughout their travels.
The two most important nations in the Cuban revolutionaries’ international relations were certainly the Soviet Union and the United States. In the film’s portrayal of Guevara’s adress to the United Nations, his dislike of the United States and their policies is apparent. His message to the Tricontinental Congress confirms the film’s depiction. In this address, Che states that “U.S. imperialism is guilty of aggression–its crimes are enormous and cover the whole world.” In Che, Part I, Guevara and Castro’s relations with the Soviet Union are not all that apparent. Again, Che’s message to the Tricontinental Congress seem to confirm the film’s attempts at historical accuracy. In the entire address, Guevara does not mention the Soviet Union or the word “communism.” Instead, he refers more to the ideal of progressivism and his distaste of the government of the United States.