Che- Volume One (2008)

Che: The Argentine, is the first part of a two-part film chronicling the second half of the life of Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The film picks up several years after the end of The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), which focuses on Guevara’s formative multi-country motorcycle trek. Che focuses on Guevara’s involvement in the Cuban Revolution, from his initial introduction to Fidel Castro, until the War’s end. The majority of the film focuses on the guerilla campaign of the Cuban Revolution, but interspersed through this narrative is a depiction of Che’s visit to the United Nations in 1964.

Though most of Che focuses on Guevara’s role in the Cuban Revolutionary War, a brief bit pays homage to Che’s meeting with Fidel Castro in Mexico. In the film we see Che agreeing to join Castro in his Cuban expedition, a moment that would be fortuitous in his growth as a revolutionary and socialist leader. However this scene in Mexico leaves out an important aspect of Che’s life between the events portrayed in The Motorcycle Diaries and Che. Both of these films focus on formative and defining periods of Guevara’s life. However, the years Che spent in Mexico in the time between Diaries and Che, were not a time of revolutionary active for Che. At this point in his life, Guevara was struggling with a floundering medical career, and the new-found strains of domestic life (he had recently become a father and married, something it seems he had not planned on). To deal with his new situation, Guevara spent most of his time “with leisure travel and idle contemplation.” (Zolov, “Guevara in Mexico”, p. 2). This goes against the myth of Che as a ceaseless revolutionary. Zolov goes on to speak of Che’s overall lack of political activity in Mexico, prior to meeting Castro. Despite what Che later became (and not to deny his conscience for social justice acquired on the travels of his youth), it seems like at least part of the reason he joined Castro was for adventure, and an escape from the doldrum that his life had become.

The bulk of Che is spent portraying the struggle of Guevara in the Cuban Revolution. Though ultimately victorious, Guevara’s mission in Cuba was extremely difficult, compounded by his asthma. During the war, Guevara pioneered many tactics that would form the center of Guerrilla warfare strategy. In the film, Guevara and his men creep through the jungle, maintaining hidden bases, working symbiotically with the peasant population, and striking Fulgencio Batista’s forces with surprise attacks. The methods of the Revolution were extremely successful, and would be collected and expounded upon by Guevara in his book Guerrilla Warfare: A Method. Guevara explained the tactics in a way that revolutionary groups throughout the world could put into practice in overthrowing tyranny. Following the success of the Cuban Revolution, Guevara would take these strategies to other countries, leading and teaching fighters in the techniques successful in Cuba.