Motorcycle Diaries

Motorcycle Diaries, directed by Walter Salles, is a 2004 film, which shows the journey of Ernesto Guevara in which he travels across South America with his friend Alberto. The film did a very good job at showing varying Latin American identities and how these people fit in society. Latin America, much like the United States, has very different groups of people who have different beliefs, ideals, and values. The film is extremely successful at showing this as the two men traverse across the South American continent. The film starts off lightly with Ernesto wanting to see as much as Latin America as possible while picking up women and having fun, however the film turns much more serious when the pair begin to see all the poverty that these people are living in. They see the true face of Latin America through this poverty and begin to ultimately understand the world they live in. You can really tell throughout the film how moved and upset Ernesto becomes from seeing the impoverished during the journey. This point is what the film captures best, the transformation of these two young kids into men who understood the cold realities faced by Latin American citizens. Elenas article says it best with “The story of Che Guevara is one of a series of personal transformations-from asthmatic youth to medical student, and then to wanderer, guerrillero, revolutionary leader, and finally, martyr. The fundamental role played by travel throughout these changes is widely acknowledged”(20). Simply put, traveling how they did allowed for the pair to see the poverty and suffering among their fellow citizens. Had they flown or taken a bus, they would not have seen all of this and would not have had such a transformation of their values and more importantly political thoughts. This political awakening that Elena later discusses is what ultimately  would lead to his shortened life as he became too radical. He would be captured by a CIA led Bolivian forces and would be executed for his actions. Zulawsky puts how his death came about perfectly with “Since Guevara’s death his portrait has become ubiquitous in Bolivia as a memorial to the man and as a symbol of defying U.S imperialism. He simply became too much of a threat to American interests.

Nationalism is a subject greatly discussed through Elenas article along with the Peronist movement that was sweeping through Argentina. While Guevara rejected much of the doctrine behind this movement and the goals it ultimately wanted to accomplish, he did support some of its ideals. One of these ideals he supported so much was nationalism and would discuss it much through his writings. The difference between his views and those of some of his contemporaries is that his beliefs began to become revolutionary. Zulawsky discusses the political atmosphere that Guevara found himself in Latin America and more specifically Bolivia during the 1950’s. While he didn’t write an extreme amount about Bolivia he did have very accurate conclusions about the politics going on in the nation. He would use these writings to help develop his political ideals.

These two young men went on this journey for fun and the spirit of adventure. They found much more than that and while they were affected in different ways, they were changed mostly for the positive. Ernesto appears much more human and real at the conclusion of the film then he does at the beginning of the film where he is lighthearted and carefree. It is no surprise that he would later support and even fight for revolutionary movements.