The Motorcycle Diaries

The most recent film we watched in class The Motorcycle Diaries was a refreshing change from many of the previous films we have viewed. It was an engaging, interesting work that managed to be both enjoyable and educational. I will admit I do not know much about Che Guevera. But after watching this film I was more curious about whom he was as a political leader because of the films examination of him as a person and its exploration of how and why he became who he did. While the film can be considered overall a historically accurate piece of work it did take some artistic license and conveniently forget to include some facts. Guevera actually came from a family that was relatively secure financially, although according to the article “Point of Departure: Travel and Nationalism in Ernesto Guevara’s Argentina” by Elena Eduardo, Che’s family faced financial struggles. They still managed to maintain their upper middle class status though which afforded him luxuries and privileges appropriate for a person of that position, such as education. The main idea of the film was to stress the importance travel played in Guevera’s life, shaping his personal ideals and beliefs based on the multitude of situations he encountered through his travels. The film does imply that the trip that the film portrays is his first journey; Eduardo’s article corrects this fact. Guevera had actually traveled multiple times to many different destinations before embarking on the trip he take in his Motorcycle Diaries. He was well read and intelligent, his sense of adventure and travel lust being sparked at an early age while he read novels of adventure from his family’s library. While he was interesting in studying the conditions of people throughout his travels during the film Eduardo’s article states that he avoided major metropolitan areas, which is where mass migration was taking people, and he preferred to focus on the countryside. This was a luxury only afforded to him due to his social status, leisurely travels for many others was not an option. According to Ann Zulawski’s article the film accurately portrayed how this journey for Che influenced his evolving political ideals. She discusses how he was exposed to the ideas that were present from the Bolivian revolution and he was able to see the effect such an overthrow had on the country’s structure and its people. It is interesting that in her article she states that using Che’s letters and journals as sources one must be cautionary because these documents are usually written primarily for the writer themselves, not an audience so they may not be as reliable or analytical in nature as a different document. She states that even his opinions were clouded by a sense of racism; this was something that was not communicated through the film. The film made it seem as if his ultimate belief was they were all one, same race. Overall while in general historically accurate, the film could have used more supporting details to make it more educational and enforce its points. It did a very good job about connecting emotionally with viewers though.