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  • The Motorcycle Diaries does a great job of sketching out the character of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, without any pandering to our knowledge of who he will become. There are no cheap shots and only one 'Che' joke-to explain the origin of the nickname, which is a play on the Argentinian accent. It's a deeply felt examination of the events that inspired the development of a political consciousness, with only a few touches of the hagiography that has developed around 'el Che' and those not until late in the film. Gael Garcia Bernal is completely believable and very human in the role, and there's real chemistry between him and Rodrigo de la Serna (any relation?) who plays his friend Granado, leading to a lot of funny moments-important, as ther are many stretches of the movie where it is just them and the scenery. The cinematography is truly gorgeous, and reminded me how little of the South American landscape we ever see on film in the U.S. The cinematographer has pulled off a major feat in shooting a period film in slightly grainy, sometimes shaky hand-held. No crane shots or sepia tinting here-the film quality immerses you in Guevara and Granado's experiences and makes them feel very immediate, without sacrificing any sense of history. A film like this is long overdue, and it deserves wide distribution. While the plot revolves around Che's awakening to the social struggles of South America (which are ongoing) there is a rich sense of place, and people, and beauty here. It seems to me that this is the first South American film in a few years that is not a world-weary documentary about social or political problems (and U.S. involvement in them), to open in the U.S. market. It's about the life of Che, yes, but it doesn't forget the people and problems that lead him into political activity, and will hopefully inspire viewers to pay more attention to what is going on around them, not only in Buenos Aires, Cuzco, Havana or Chiapas, but right next door.
  • This movie is based on the true story that took Ernesto Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna) on a road trip all across and along South America in the 1950's. The script/direction elegantly avoids any politics or similar. Its focus is on the human transformation of two young Argentine professionals, a turning point in their lives, who decide to see their continent with their own eyes. This movie only covers Che Guevara's life BEFORE he became the famous Che Guevara. Most of us would agree with Che's goals but less, I guess, would agree with his means. However, the movie concentrates on how the world changed Ernesto which in turn led him to try to change the world. The movie ends at the end of their road trip. I understand that there is another movie in the making (with Benicio del Toro) which will show the rest of Che' s life, with politics and flying bullets included. The acting of the movie is first class: Gael Garcia Bernal performs at his best; however it is Rodrigo de la Serna's performance the one that is simply outstanding; not only he represents Granado's as a funny, outgoing character, but he also highlights Gael's characterization of Guevara. Great photography, humor, action, and drama are all ingredients of this movie. If you want to watch a movie that deals with reality and that contrasts with Hollywood's fantasies, this is your movie. You'll laugh, may be cry, but for sure you'll leave the theater thinking about a few things. Finally, this movie ironically represents Che's ultimate goal, a unified continent: the director is Brazilian, the main actor Mexican, the main actress and supporting actor Argentinean, the script writer is from Puerto Rico and the producer, Robert Redford is American. And, the movie was filmed in Argentina, Chile and Peru. Length: 2hs 04 min.
  • THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES is certainly one of the finest films of the year - a daring, compassionate re-creation of the journey of two young, well-to-do Argentinean lads who leave their privileged positions of biochemist and fourth year Medical student to follow their idea of traveling by motorcycle from their native Buenos Aires down to Patagonia, up through Chile, Peru, Colombia to Venezuela. Sounds like a light hearted Trip Movie, but instead this journey, factually made by one Ernesto (aka 'Che' and 'Fuser') Guevara de la Serna and his close friend Alberto Granado ('Chubby'), is one of the most touching and sensitive passages into self acceptance and awareness of the world as a place where equality of people is a microscopic speck of illusion that is revealed by a carefully constructed script by Jose Rivera based on the diaries of both of these men made during and after their journey. Walter Salles ("Behind the Sun", "Central Station") once again proves himself a director who can infuse his vision of a story with uncomplicated directness of approach, having the sensitivity to allow his well-chosen actors to create wholly believable, three-dimensional characters, whether the actors are the leads or simply minor roles that hold the camera's eye for seconds.

    Taken as simply a movie to enjoy, THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES is as beautiful as a National Geographic Magazine feature on the Amazon and the deserted and populated lands of South America. But given his re-creation of Che Guevara's and Alberto Granado's meaningful excursion into manhood this movie goes far beyond entertainment and enters that rarefied arena of psycho biography. Traveling on an old motorcycle, the two lads encounter hunger, accidents, lusting after women at every stop, ingratiating panhandling, and the gradual revelation of the quality of life of the indigenous peoples of South America. They are touched by the plights of the people, the people in turn love the boys, and they eventually spend three weeks living and working in a leprosarium run by the nuns, adding their knowledge of medicine to helping not only the physical needs of the lepers but finding ways to break the psychosocial ostracism that historically curses the 'unclean'. Breaking down these barriers, forming strong relationships with those tending the lepers as well as the lepers themselves, lays the seeds of 'revolution' or Change in the minds of the lads, especially Ernesto or 'Che'. The film does not begin to preach or to make the Che Guevara of Cuban militancy fame a hero: it doesn't have to, as the transformation in the mind of Che is so beautifully subtle. The journey has given him the insight that he must devote himself to changing the inequality and poverty of his America. The events that followed this Motorcycle journey are provided in voice over, black and white footage of people's faces, and a final scene in Havana at the ending of the film. No more need be said.

    Gael Garcia Bernal gives an incredibly thoughtful, stunning portrayal of Che, saying so much more with his eyes, his body language (especially as he suffers through his own physical demon of asthma attacks), and his perfect embodiment of the spirit of a man who becomes enlightened by the peasants he comes to love. Bernal is already a brilliant actor and a magnetic screen presence, and if he is not nominated for an Oscar for this unique, artful role it will be a major surprise. His is a career to watch! Likewise Rodrigo de la Serna is completely immersed in his role as Alberto and shows the same quality of quiet growth as a character as the movie progresses. ALL of the many extras in this huge cast are memorable: the leper colony abounds with some of the most touching human beings ever captured on film. The camera work, the musical scoring, the obvious commitment on the part of everyone involved in this glorious picture - every aspect of THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES is exactly right. Ten Stars for this one! In Spanish with English subtitles
  • THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES (2004) ***1/2 Gael Garcia Bernal,

    Rodrigo De la Serna, Mia Maestro. (Dir: Walter Salles)

    Che Guevera is sadly best known today as a mysterious icon for a pop culture ironic t-shirt sported by the supposedly hip and political. Few, including this reviewer, really knew much more about the firebrand revolutionist who was a comrade in Cuban arms with Fidel Castro in a crusade that led to his eventual capture and execution by the CIA as a notorious fly-in-the-ointment career criminal.

    However new insight – albeit a few shades of grey and free styling dramatic license intact – depicts a twenty something medical student named Ernesto Guevera da la Serna, a South American native (memorably portrayed by the ever soulful Bernal, in a truly outstanding breakthrough performance) who partners with his best friend Alberto Granado (strongly supportive De la Serna) on a trek by motorcycle (a battered 1939 Norton to be exact) an 800 plus mile quest from Argentina up thru the upper regions of Peru with nothing but a few provisions and even less dinero.

    Relying on their bonhomie, make-shift surroundings and clever improvisation the odd couple manage to get to Ernesto's girlfriend's nouveau riche family where he tells the lovely Chichina Ferreyra (the fetching Maestro) that he wants her to wait for him but knows in his heart this is more than likely never to be.

    After several humorous encounters along the fray the duo finally have to give up their trusty vehicle after many hardships and torrential weather obstacles to go on foot then finally on ferry to their destination: an internship with a leper colony. Along the way the duo meet many disenfranchised and impoverished fellow countrymen and their women and families and with each soul-crushing pit-stop you can feel the stirrings of ire catching fire within the young man who will become Che Guevera.

    Salles, who directed the exceptional CENTRAL STATION, smartly allows his two fine actors plenty of room to get into the skins of their funny, fighting and deep souled characters while enlisting the picturesque surroundings of the lush and jaw-droppingly beautiful playas, mountains and countryside (exquisitely rendered by ace cinematographer Eric Gautier) and underlies the proceedings with a hauntingly stirring score by Gustavo Santaolalla.

    But it is Bernal who is most powerful in his implosive, soulful and heartfelt turn as the young impassioned man just about to break for greatness; the same can be said of this talented actor's star bursting career.
  • I would not consider myself to be an ultra liberal, but I am somewhat knowledgeable about what has been going on in South America for the last 100 years, and Che Guevara is a part of it. Going into this movie all I knew about him was that he is on a lot of t-shirts, and that "che", despite what ignorant people think, is not his name, it is what Argentinians say to each other like in the US saying "dude".

    I am also a big fan of the purity of movies, not this Spider-man crap that is all over the place, but the true art of films, and I am fairly serious when I go into a movie for the first time. A part of this is that I watch the movie throwing all bias I might have out the window and watch it as if I had never heard of it before. That said, I believe this movie was excellent because it had superb cinematography of the beauty of South America, had excellent acting, great chemistry between the two main actors (despite Ebert saying they did not), and an overall political theme.

    This movie did not get great reviews in the US, and I haven't seen reviews from Latin American countries, but I am guessing they are better. This is because many people either shied away from the movie once they heard the word Che, and if they did see it, through the whole movie they were probably thinking "commie, commie!".

    I have since read up on Che Guevara, and he is actually a fascinating person to study because he began as a rich boy who through his journeys learned how much people were suffering beyond his imagination, and part of this was how he got to be so rich, by suppressing the native people. The movie does an excellent job of showing this transition from his carefree exploring until later having an epiphany about his destiny to help the people. Yes, he got extreme after a while, but the study of him is compelling nonetheless.

    It is interesting to know that coffee and bananas that say "Guatemala" are still grown today by slave laborers on farms, and that the US does not mind the slave labor because they were the ones who sponsored a coup in 1951 to install a dictatorship that in history books says it was an ousting of communism, which makes it okay. This is a much bigger and important example than the movie, but it is the same bias involved: People in the United States (I don't say America because that refers to every country from Argentina to Canada, not just the US as people in this country like to think) not only don't care about the suffering of people in other countries (unless it's mentioned on Oprah or involves economic rewards) but have the nerve to call them evil when they try to better themselves, which at the time was the communist movement in South America. This is not the communism of Castro or even of the later Che Guevara, but simply to give more to the starving and suppressed that are today suppressed to make your bananas and Starbucks coffee.

    Because of the biases people have towards the people of countries they know nothing about, this movie has been extremely underrated in the wake of films that comparatively suck ("Ray", way overrated) yet have been rewarded because of their popularity and appeasement to the ignorant people that attend theaters in the United States.
  • The Motorcycle Diaries is a tale of Che's life prior to becoming a revolutionary political figure. We follow Che and his friend on a cross-country road trip, a journey into the unknown. The film was beautifully filmed. It really makes you want to travel and go to see some of the South/Central American countries.

    The acting was superb. Gael Garcia Bernal is not new to the screen. He has delivered amazing performances in both Amores Perros and Y Tu Mama Tambien. He does not disappoint in this movie. Newcomer, Rodrigo De La Serna, also gives an excellent performance.

    Regardless of your politics and personal views of Che, you will walk away from this movie feeling a bit better about humanity.

    I'm hoping this pulls Best Foreign Oscar.
  • "The Motorcycle Diaries" (Diarios de motocicleta) works more effectively as a bio-pic than on its own as a road movie.

    The scenery throughout Latin America is beautiful and the two leads are very affecting, especially Gael García Bernal as Ernesto Guevara de la Serna when "Che" is still nascent.

    But it's surprising how undramatic what happens that turns a sweet, middle-class med student into a revolutionary. He was already a liberal who wanted to help leprosy patients, so what happens isn't a complete turn-around -- even when they are broke, they can wire home for more money. Rather it sets off an internal thoughtfulness that is difficult to catch on film.

    Mostly just leaving his sheltered life, particularly being dropped by his wealthy girlfriend, and seeing the continent, especially his first exposure to the indigenous peoples who suffer the most in every South American country even while tourists are visiting the ruins of their ancestors, becomes the nexus of his pan-continental political ideals.

    He is mostly an observer and inconsistent protester of injustice, not a victim -- it's startling that his culminating noble sojourn at the leper colony, where he can put his skills and indivisible warmth to specific good, is only for three weeks.

    So there's no eye-opening "Grapes of Wrath" conflict, though he is always contrasted with his carefree companion, Alberto Granado. Their close camaraderie is well-captured and Ernesto has a profound impact on him, as we learn in a final biographical summary.

    It is amusing that Ernesto contradicts the stereotype of the Latin male sensualist and is a terrible dancer to the lovely soundtrack.
  • From director Walter Salles comes a very moving road journey which had me completely spellbound by the end and I'm sure would gain many viewer's hearts as the infamous director dives deep into many different issues.

    The story centres around two young doctors going on a motorbike journey around the world, not for personal gain but for the experience. This idea was completely outstanding. It gives the audience an understanding of young people's desires, not for personal gains such as money but for an experience into real life issues and wishing to know more about the world around them. These ideas I'm sure would make viewers aspire to be like the central characters to go out and explore the world and that was a reason why I personally loved this drama, because it gives inspiration to the audience and really moves them in a way which will leave you completely spellbound.

    The film centres on many issues but one which stuck out for me was the heavy ideologies of health. In the year 1950 there were many health issues present in the poorer counties such as Peru and this Oscar winning drama is able to capture these issues magnificently. The two central protagonists are doctors and are wishing to help others with their knowledge and expertise as they explore the less fortunate countries to help with the many depressing health problems the countries are experiencing. There is a very highly emotional driven scene when the lead character tries to help a very ill woman who is refusing to be treated. Tensions are always running high in the latter stages of the film when many issues are wishing to be resolved and the central protagonists are putting themselves on the line to help the ill residents of the poor countries.

    Having changes in situations was a very powerful technique. The characters experience a poor life and a rich life. Audiences will see different perspectives of life in the 1950s when seeing there are poor and rich countries and are divided by the smallest differences, such as illnesses. We also see more joyous moments and highly emotional driven scenes which also gives a sense of how life is, the good and bad sides are both expressed in equal amounts which in my opinion was a fantastic move and will capture your heart as it did mine

    Centred on the 1950s the film captured the essence of the politically driven time beautifully. Audiences see job issues, money problems and country matters which all juxtapose perfectly to capture the essence of the time and crate a high realism in context of the time

    The acting by everyone involved is absolutely outstanding and it confused me when not one received an Oscar nomination because Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo De la Serna are remarkable as the two travellers. Both dealing with their own issues we see different types of characters but similar characteristics to which made the film more believable of society where opinions are divided but also shared.

    Bernal plays a character who is always saying what he feels and is never wishing to back down from anyone or anything and he pulled it off tremendously. The passion he creates as the central protagonist Guevara is utterly astonishing as he deals with asthma problems, love lives and money issues. It's a lot for him to take as he realises how serious life can be. Serna to also pulls off a classic performance as the older more experienced of the two who is always looking for that little bit more than his fellow traveller.

    Using different countries such as Peru, Venezuela, and Spain allows viewers to gain an insight into the vastness of life. Using poor countries as well as rich countries allows viewers to see different sides to the world in the 1950s and was pulled off greatly. The characters can therefore experience what a posh life is like as well as what life in the fast lane gives them. The camera work is astonishing. Shooting from Venezuela, Peru etc we see different perspective of the countries. The scenery is always beautiful with shots of the towns in a poor state and the general background of the countries is to be admired. The shots of the bike on the roads are to be admired. The camera moves adjacent to the bike giving the realistic effect of the bike moving fast along the empty roads, gaining a sense of freedom and enjoyment.

    From watching this film I can say I have been inspired to get on a motorbike and explore the world. Seeing what the central protagonists saw will inspire many as it has inspired me and I have no hesitation in recommending this Oscar winning drama to anyone.
  • carlos.virgile-315 September 2004
    Why a film about Che now? Why suddenly a revival of a revolutionary hero?

    Apathy, political blandness and complacency are the characteristics of today's world when compare with the 60's generation, and any left revolutionary dogma seems, for many reasons, to have been put at rest for the time being and until further notice. The relevance of this film today has many different facets and its success is particularly interesting at a moment of change, when wars, political and economical crisis and their global effects, are starting to provoke some reaction suggesting that involvement might just be around the corner. Wisely the film concentrates on following Guevara diaries before becoming radicalised and in the process of gaining knowledge and awareness of the struggle of the Latin American unprivileged classes and prior to breaking up with his middle class ties. The film has had many viewers that have criticized the lack of a stronger political definition in the portrait of the lead character, a more radical view of Guevara and of its political stand even at that early stage in his life. The film makes his image more digestible for a general audience, showing him in a sympathetic light and from a softer perspective. In my view this is exactly what it makes it relevant and interesting for today's audiences. Although the film grows in the memory as being a touch more political than what perhaps Walter Salles aimed for, it doesn't intend to preach politics or even try to be a full-blown biopic of an historical and controversial figure. What makes the message strong is the fact that we actually know who the character eventually will become after the story of the film finishes and the end titles start to run, that makes it rather more poignant. We only witness the beginning of his personal journey and know how much he will travel. The film is more about personal choices, experiences and decisions that eventually might change the course of a life, and particularly about the spirit of being young. The film recreates the freedom of adolescence, a time for absorbing and experimenting, the start of a trek where we discover the world and where justice and a hope for change is strongly embedded with the attitude of the young. Or at least that happen in the 60's generally and particularly in Latin America. The real quality of the film is that through a subtle, engaging, fun tale allows the audience to connect with a period where change, personal and internal, was possible, and where there was hope for a fairer future.

    For anyone like myself from Argentina, part of a generation that were there and young at the time, the film evokes just that starting point. It is a rather emotional journey that takes back a whole generation that had firm beliefs in these ideals, as relevant today as they were in 1952 where the action of the film ends and Guevara flights back home shaken by the whole travel experience. It is rather significant that not that much has changed for the better in the Latin America of today, where the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' has, if anything, grown wider. The film is simple and straightforward showing the real talent of Walter Salles for avoiding patronising his audience as he conveys an accurate portrait of the landscape and its people. There is perhaps some excessive 'under acting' on the approach from Gael Garcia Bernal to his performance [ ...was Che really ever such a "softie"?] but still, it is great to see him growing as an actor and as Che through the film. To counter balanced such a restrained interpretation, Rodrigo de la Serna projects the right dosage of charm and Argentinean street wisdom that gives the warmth and humanity the film exudes. The music of Gustavo Santaolaya adds a layer of depth and intensity whilst rightly avoiding, like the rest of the film, most of the traditional clichés of the South American image.
  • Jay Leno, perhaps the most famous comedian on American television 12 years ago, in his monologue the night after the 2005 Oscars, said: "I was so happy this morning that I sang that really wonderful Oscar winning song while driving , ... "La-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la ... EL RIO! .....God, What GREAT Lyrics, eh?"

    Be that as it may, Mr. Leno was right about one thing: "Al Otro Lado Del Rio", that song from Motorcycle Diaries really does have some exquisite lyrics! Obviously, Mr. Leno was also right about the focus of his joke. At least 98% of Gringos and non-Hispanics in the U.S.A. probably cannot appreciate nor understand much of these poetic lyrics. However, on the Richter scale of cultural impact, I would rate this event as something like an "8"!

    There are almost six thousand actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, etc., who are members of The Academy of Arts and Sciences with the right to vote in all categories with nominations. The other Best Song Options available to them in 2005 were, "Accidentally in Love" from Shrek 2, "Believe" appearing in The Polar Express, "Learn to Be Lonely" from The Phantom of the Opera, and "Vois Sur Ton Chemin" a song in French from "Les Choristes".

    Before the 2005 Oscars, I quite honestly did not have high hopes that "Rio" was going to win. Songs in English are always sure winners! Even throughout the entire history of the Oscars, there had never been a winning song in another language, except only once, and that happened sixty years ago: The very beautiful and romantic "Un Homme Et Une Femme" (1966) Which turned out to be the very First and ONLY time that the Golden Statuette was awarded to a song in French, or any other foreign language, for that matter! But between 1966 and 2005, there certainly was a lot of change!

    Sure, for many people, the Oscar for a song in Spanish does not seem so important in and of itself, but taken in conjunction with a recent series of related events, there is a real feeling that there is a change in the trajectory of the American cultural river. Also, interestingly enough, for the first time, a Spanish-speaking actress, Colombian Catalina Sandino Moreno, was nominated in the category of Best Actress. Some years ago, the film SPANGLISH attempted to show us just how difficult it is to try to assimilate into mainstream culture, without losing much of their own Hispanic identity.

    Fifty years ago, it would have been almost impossible for many Americans to name more than 2, 3 or 4 Latinos. Now we have Jennifer Lopez, Sophia Vergara, Shakira, Antonio Banderas, Marc Anthony, Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, Carlos Santana, Ricky Martin, Celia Cruz, Elizabeth Peña, Andy Garcia and John Leguizamo, among many others. With the selecting of "Al Otro Lado Del Rio", Hollywood seems to be telling the world, "The Spanish language also has an important place in the United States!"


    Any comments, questions or observations, in English or Spanish, are welcome!
  • intrinsicchaos16 December 2004
    Warning: Spoilers
    Now, that was one excellent flick. It's about Ernesto "Che" Guevara and his best friend, Alberto Granado as they go on a 10,000 kilometer motorcycle trip all across Sudamerica. As they depart their homebase in Argentina, they're just two boys, Ernesto nearly finished with medical school and Alberto a newly-minted biochemist, wanting to see the world and get laid as much as they can before they get old and tied down. But after passing through heights and valleys, mountains and deserts, they emerge as men.

    If you're looking for a communist propaganda film, this isn't it. The story of Ernesto's self- actualization, however, does resonate with many similar mythical/religious figures. It's almost Buddhist as you watch him leave the stately boulevards of Buenos Aires and come in contact with the vast ethnic diversity of Latin America and share stories with a thirsty couple whose only option is to toil in a mine in the Atacama Desert after being evicted off their grandfather's farm for being communists, indigenous Incan descendants who are left with little money or livelihood, and Peruvian farmers who organize to save their land from the Lima bureaucrats.

    After witnessing these hardships forced upon the common people, he reaches his final destination, the Brazilian San Pedro leper colony. The Amazon splits this colony into two, with the doctors and nurses living on the north bank and the lepers on the south bank. There, the Che/Buddha figure, on the eve of his 24th birthday, proclaims his wish for the unification of all indigenous peoples to the stunned nuns and then swims across the Amazon to the leper side. As the doctors and nuns call him to come back to their side, he nearly drowns from the self-baptism but reaches the cheering leper crowd. Ernesto, as Christ resurrected, declares he has "a lot of thinking to do," and, as the epilogue reads, within ten years becomes el commandante of Cuba. The CIA then assassinates him in the Bolivian jungle.

    It's rather surprising that Che, with his prodigal journey, never quite became the leader of a new religion, but one could argue that his iconic stature affords him the same respect from his followers (particularly since socialism/communism frowns on religion) as Christ receives from his believers. Alberto goes on to found the Santiago School of Medicine and and his eternally loyal friend.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    The movie is about Ernesto the middle-class budding young doctor on a "youth will have its fling" tour, rather than about "Che" the revolutionist that he became later in his life. Although the tour indeed has a lot to do in determining the future course of Ernesto's life, we must not let that fore-knowledge distort our vision of the movie.

    'Motorcycle Diaries' is exactly what it says it is, the diaries of an eight-month adventure of two young men, although to be exact, the latter part of the journey was actually on foot, after their beloved motorcycle's well-earned 'retirement.' What we the audience proceed to discover, after sharing with them their joys and woes on the trip, is the profound effect it has on their future.

    While starting out in Argentina, the goodbye scene with Ernesto's family would be no different from what you might see anywhere in the US, when a middle-class family says farewell to their fresh college grad embarking on a, say, hiking trip in Europe before starting his career. We would also tend to give credit to the parents for not giving Ernesto too much hell for not having finished his medical degree first.

    With crisp, fast paced shots, director Walter Salles (Central Station) takes us through the early part of the carefree adventure, through breathtaking South American landscapes. We see how the buddies experience, probably for the first time in their lives, sporadic spells of poverty, until receiving the next installment of funds remitted to them. In the process, we also get some insight into the markedly different characters of the two amigos. Alberto is extrovert, charismatic and could sometimes get a little unscrupulous in order to get what he wants. Ernesto is shy, attentive, and unflinchingly honest. Like the best of friends, they often do not see eye to eye in things, though friendship always prevails. I, for one, find myself empathizing a little more with Alberto, because of the innate rascal in me.

    The frivolous mood starts to change after the demise of the Norton 500. The dogged determination of Ernesto starts to emerge as he takes the lead in forging ahead on foot, while Alberto also shows signs of maturing. At this point, you can't help but remember the allusion to the Quixotic aspect of the journey in the beginning of the film and subconsciously recall the lyrics of 'The impossible dream'. After witnessing poverty and injustice, along with endurance and perseverance, through various parts of their beloved continent, Ernesto Guevara and Alberto Granado finally reach the last part of the journey that will change their lives forever. The story of their three weeks' service in a leper colony deep in the Peruvian Amazon is told with simple honesty by director Salles, touching directly your heart without unnecessary harassment of your emotions.

    Director Salles' process of making the film includes meeting with Alberto (at 80) and Ernesto's family (widow and three sons), as well as tracing the journey extensively through Argentina, Chile and Peru. Blended with the structured screenplay are improvised material of the actors mingling with the local people as Alberto and Ernesto would have done fifty years ago. In Salles' own words, Motorcycle Diaries is, among other things, a 'coming of age' movie, and a journey that would define 'on both an emotional and a political level' who these two young men would become.

    I'm not going to say how marvelous Gael García Bernal and Rodrigo De la Serna are as Ernesto and Alberto respectively. While they deserve all the praises being heaped upon them, what they deserve even more is to be seen by people who are skeptical about these praises.
  • Lechuguilla28 October 2010
    Rarely does a film convey such great thematic depth as in "The Motorcycle Diaries", a true-life story about two twenty-something, idealistic guys from Buenos Aires who, in 1952, embark on a 5,000 mile trip through five South American countries, "to explore a continent (they) had only known in books".

    Alberto (Rodrigo De la Serna), a biochemist, is jovial, rascally, fudges the truth a bit, and talks too much. Ernesto (Gael Garcia Bernal), known as "Fuser", is honest, suffers from asthma, and is a bit shy; Ernesto is a medical student. Both are clever, daring, and resourceful.

    Their journey, partly on a creaky, 1939 Norton 500 motorcycle, starts out lighthearted and fun, but turns serious and somber, as their funds run out and as they experience the grinding poverty of local peasants, miners, and farmers. Yet, they constantly are greeted with kindness from strangers, however humble, and their perspective shifts to a deeper understanding of the pain and suffering of others.

    Enhancing realism, the film sports dialogue in Spanish with English subtitles and ambient sounds sans music in many scenes. When music is present, it communicates a restless, galloping quality at the beginning, then quiets to stoic minimalism in the second half.

    Scenery ranges from quaint to truly spectacular. Color cinematography is acceptable. Yet, given the historical setting and the story's fatalistic quality, I could have wished for B&W to soften the tone, consistent with the haunting B&W images and still photos at the film's end.

    Sometimes a physical journey can foster an emotional journey of discovery about oneself and others, which in turn alters the trajectory of one's life, as it does here for Ernesto. We can only speculate how his life might have evolved had he not taken that motorcycle trip.

    But history cannot be changed. And Ernesto's travels, as documented here, seem all the more haunting as a prelude to destiny.
  • Sorry for my bad English but i'd like to tell you my totally positive impression about this work. From every point of view this movie is very good: actors are great, location are *wonderful* (I want to go to Cile!!!:)) and the shots ("riprese" in italian) are very original and help to completely involve yourself in that spectacular world. I have very appreciated interpretations of the two protagonist that have alternated moments full of pathos with nice moment of relax. Maybe the real protagonist of the film is all the America Latina and especially the inhabitants. All the appearances ("comparse" in italian) have rules of great thickness and especially one (the miner with his wife) is fantastic! This work must be wacthed not only because it is full of meaning and it represent a way of reflection but also it's fast, nice and never too rhetorical.
  • I have just watched this wonderful movie, and I really believe that it deserved the nominations of best picture, best lead actor, best support actor, best cinematography and best soundtrack. The story of the romantic process of consciousness of Ernesto "Che" Guevara de la Serna of the situation of Latin America, ruled by injustice and exploration by the great nations, through a road trip with his best friend Alberto Granado, is spectacular. There are right doses of action, comedy and drama in this movie, supported by an outstanding direction, two magnificent actors, wonderful landscapes and a stunning music score. The ridiculous decision of the academy of using Antonio Banderas as a singer in the ceremony of the Oscar was outrageous. My vote is ten.

    Title (Brazil): "Diários de Motocicleta" ("Motorcycle Diaries")
  • I just think it's important that people remember Che was a murderer responsible for the death of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Cubans who disagreed with his Communist ideology. Though it's trendy to wear Che shirts amongst Americans wanting to seem cool, we should not forget his victims. It's amazing to me that people love to characterize Che is this wonderful guy, when he was known for his use of mass murder and terror to advance a political agenda. It's a wonder why Hollywood and the media don't do more to educate people on this very disturbing history of Che. To treat him like a hero is sort of like treating Hitler or Stalin like one.

    For a good history of Che, I would direct people to:
  • carloscruel21 September 2004
    Well, what to say about this new fantastic movie, based on the story of the top symbol of revolutionary issues in the world? I can start saying that Gael García Bernal is a fabulous actor which has in this movie one of the most spectacular performance ever played. The supporting cast is no less than marvelous, and led by Salles (which I, as a Brazilian, think is the best movie director Brazil's ever created) they take us to places and feelings that only a movie that goes near perfection can take. The story is not only about a journey through Latin America, but mostly about a spiritual journey, about how Che Guevara found his place in the world, and how he realized how important he could be in many ways to many people. At last, I recommend this movie to anyone how enjoys a terrific film, made with great passion by passionate people. I hope I can be such a great Movie Director like Salles one day.
  • mick-13713 January 2005
    This movie couldn't have wallowed any more in ridiculous sentimentality if Che had walked across the river and cured the lepers with his bare hands. If you read the diaries Che's own portrait of himself is much less impressive--he basically comes across as a self-important prig with grandiose dreams but little in the way of guts. This makes him at least a far more honest man than the film makers. You would have thought that after all these years the left would be able to come to terms with the contradictions and shortcomings of its heroes. How did such a bright and idealist young man turn into such a flawed adult? The clues are in the diaries, but you'd never know it from this idealised and idolised portrayal.

    This is the film of the Che the bedsit poster, not Che the man.
  • Diarios De Motocicleta is a bad attempt to try to make a nice image for a well known murderer. It is very simple to "discover" that in each murderer, once, there was a soul and that soul was even full of compassion and life. Probably such crap as this movie was needed once more, in some countries; after so many truths were discovered about the atrocities made by communists. Mr. Robert Redford probably needs to clear up the memory covered in blood of a huge criminal. Probably tomorrow we will need to clear up the memory of Hitler or Pol Pot or maybe Ceausescu. In the end the last two of them were murderers and icons of communism bringing terror to all those who worked and owned something in this life. The movie is an artistic but very boring attempt to clear up the image of a monster.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First, had to set aside my prejudices to view this film. If you're like me whenever 'Ernesto Che Guevera' is even mentioned en passant, I found myself conflicted. Yes, I too have many preconceived notions as to who the 'real' Che was. But from the film adaptation of the novel by Guevera's own hand, we learn that Ernesto started out in earnest (scuza the pun): Guevera studied to become a doctor. Quite the noble calling. And far flung from his later political activist career where his life was cut short: he died in a hail of bullets; called for by his Bolivian captors and eventual executioners.

    Let me set that all aside for now. Ernesto or 'Fuser' as he was affectionately known to his side kick and co-adventurer, Alberto, who is slightly older but still in his twenties plans the adventure of a lifetime. Together the 20 year-old idealists riding two up in the saddle atop an oil bleeding but still functioning single cylinder 500 cc Norton affectionately named 'The Mighty One' set out. They envision seeing and experiencing the length and a good part of the breadth of the South American continent.

    The intrepid explorers begin their journey in their native Argentina. From Buenos Aires, they ride south. Then they plan to head north: hug the Pacific coast and follow the roads all the way up from the tip of Chile. Their destination: Venezuela. Once they reached Caracas, Fuser and Alberto would celebrate the latter's 30th birthday. The entire journey was to take no more than six months.

    En route, the explorers experience everything from the forever changing landscapes such as the towering Chilean Andes to the gamut of human emotions. Even at their tender age, I doubt if the lads were prepared or even welcomed their encounters with fellow 'average' Latin Americans. Especially poignant is their visit to a Leper Colony. Fuser is moved from the very first encounter. Moreover, he cannot hide his indignation at the suffering of the sick but also for the oppressed peoples that they encounter throughout. Alberto, on the other hand, is all too consumed with his amorous side of the adventure. For certain, he is not one to morph into a deep thinker. Not if a loose skirt or unbuttoned female tunic beckons nearby.

    Late in the film, Alberto though does have his epiphany; sort of. In Venezuela,the two pals who were almost inseparable but at times insufferable; part ways. Fuser now filled to the brim with memories of the social injustices he's experienced everywhere on the continent is resolute: he vows to change the world. Or at least the Latin American contingent. Alberto,not of the same persuasion, disavows himself from that laudable platitude. But not before the two exchange tear filled hugs. Then Alberto returns to Venezuela. Fuser doesn't join him; he sets his sights farther afield: Cuba.

    Throughout this film, I was drawn to their journey. Many times I felt transported to each scene: I was right there, alongside the two Latin musketeers. And along with the ethos and pathos themes there was plenty of humor to draw from as well: such as their harrowing escape from the local dance hall after Fuser tried to romance the drunken mechanic's wife. The benevolent tradesman who just hours earlier had offered to repair the 'tired' Norton for free, sobered up just in time: a friend caught the two tryst makers escaping into the Chilean night air; almost certain they would christen their chance meeting.

    Both director Walter Salles and producer Robert Redford deserve many kudos for making this stirring and moving film. Despite what your views now are on how Ernesto Che Guevera turned out later, if you're like me, theFuser character as portrayed brilliantly in the film by Gael Garcia Bernal is one to emulate at any age. To wit, it's never too late to show compassion on those that society has forgotten. Makes no difference where you live either. Or what your political affiliations are. How can we remain silent when so much injustice still abounds in the world? I remember Fuser saying the exact same line. Many times; still needs to be said even more.

    Good on all those who helped make this film a reality. Because the reality is this: much social injustice exists around the globe even today; still seems to be a topic that is to be avoided at all costs; especially by the 'haves'. A pithy but needed observation...
  • The topic is interesting, the quintessential "road movie" with social and political undertones (or maybe the quintessential social and political film with road undertones) and, all in all, fairly well realized. The Latin American natural and human landscape is, as always, stunning in its beauty and variety. All in all a decent film. Yet, one can't help but comparing it with the film it could have been and it wasn't, mainly due to a certain Hollywood sappiness that, maybe under the influence of the American portion of the production, percolates through the whole film. Some defects are subtle and, all in all, venial: the way facial expressions are edited in here and there in the film, certain semi-comical moments whose placement and frequency are too predictable not to arouse the suspicion that they went directly from the pages of a production manual into the film, etc. Others are more evident: the river-crossing scene is absolutely unforgivable (and this whether Guevara really swam through the river or not), the political and social aspects of the film are downplayed and, when they are played at all, they are with a naiveté that borders with a populist "good feeling" (what the Italians used to call, some ten years ago, "il buonismo.") Gael Garcia Bernal is a solid actor, and this film confirms it, but we are far away from the performance in "El crime del Padre Amaro." One can even glimpse the early symptoms of Tarantinism (a disease that I named after Quentin Tarantino: a great director who is, however, so busy being Quentin Tarantino that his life seems not to have much space for anything else.)

    But, as I said, all in all, the story is good, the film keeps moving, the South American landscape is beautiful, the Argentinian accent is deliciously musical. Not a masterpiece, but worth the price of the ticket, which is more than you can say for so many films.
  • The Motorcycle Diaries is the best movie ever directed by Walter Salles, and I am a Brazilian. Brazilians always considered "Central Stadium" one of the best movies all time. I disagree, I think The Motorcycle Diaries is much more passioned...

    Gael García Bernal is the roll of his life, much more focus. And I like very much "Amores Perros", "Y tu Mama Tamien" and "The crime of Father Amaro", they are well-made as Bernal performance.

    See the movie, it´s great...and it´s not a commercial of socialism. It´s a true moment of Granado and Guevara´s life... And the real Granado, in the end, it´s wonderful...
  • Whatever your preconceptions about Che Guevara going into it, this movie portrays him as a young man who, in the event of leaving his home town indefinitely for the first time, develops a strong social conscience. Whether it stayed that way the more power he found himself wielding is highly debatable and ultimately a moot point for the journey of discovery in which the film immerses us.

    The movie is not so much about the completed ideals that so many who have studied history will be familiar with, but rather studies the process of how travelling away from one's natural environment can shape those thoughts and influence the choices it will cause them to put into action for the future. This is a universal experience that will apply to WHATEVER moral persuasion you find yourself aligning with.

    This film shows that freedom is a gift, opening up new opportunities to us. If only everyone got the chance to indulge in it, but unfortunately, that depends on finding the luck to be able to sample it yourself before you choose whether or not you're going to bestow it upon others...

    Forget poring over what's to become later; for now just enjoy that feeling of being able to take in the sights at your own pace, that wonderful exultation of liberty that the film conveys so well. Easy Rider on The Mighty One with the wind in your hair. Embrace the possibilities before reality eventually shows up and sets in!
  • This film totally blew me away. I loved every moment but I particularly enjoyed the genuine on-screen chemistry between the two main characters. Their friendship was so touching without them seeming to realise it at all. This is without a doubt one of the best foreign films I have ever ever seen and I would greatly recommend watching it even if foreign films are not generally your forte.

    I think the Gael Garcia Bernal also deserves a very special mention for his outstanding lead performance in this film. Of course he would not have been able to portray this role as well as he did without the excellent script and a very strong supporting cast but I still believe that he was the perfect choice for this role, so well done to the people in casting who worked on this film.

    A genuinely touching, unique and quietly brilliant film detailing one of the most beautiful friendships I have seen on screen. Watch it or regret it!!
  • A classic 10 , this film reminds us that film-making is art. And that making a film in the same spirit as its subject can bring the audience along on the journey , what makes this film a 10 is its mixing of real elements the actors feelings and emotions the directors vison the D.P,s incredible shots - consider the landscapes and night scenes lit with real lighting. What makes this film so special is its ability to bring you on board and show you real south American people who are not actors but real people and this is where the film jumps into gear in how it brings the written elements to life. depicting the past 1951-52 but showing us that today those same people live there lives much in the same way as when the film was set.
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