Thursday, January 14, 2010

CHE: PART TWO

Benicio Del Toro, Demian Bichir, Joaquim de Almeida, Lou Diamond Phillips, Franka Potente, Rodrigo Santoro, Carlos Bardem



The second installment of Che begins in 1967 after he quits from his posts in the Cuban government and disappears from sight. The film opens with a black and white footage of Castro reading a letter from his trusted ally, Che Guevara. In the letter, he basically tells the public that he is quite fond of Cuba and its people yet he feels he is needed somewhere else. Basically it was his revolutionary streak that led him to spread his brand of armed struggle in nations (Congo, Venezuela) that he felt were 'captured' by imperialism.

The film unfolds in Bolivia, a US backed democratic nation ruled by the military. Che heavily disguised manages to enter legally in La Paz, the capital. He then sets camp deep in the jungle. Partially funded by Cuba and along with other Cuban volunteers, he starts recruiting disillusioned Bolivians to form a guerrilla army. Planted in a harsher terrain with a mixture of revolutionaries form different countries, Ramon (Che changed his name to keep a low profile) encounters a lot of hurdles in his struggle. Until finally, the Bolivian military with help from the CIA and the US government catch up with the small group (after he split the bigger group into three) and captures Che, alive. Consequently he is shot and the film ends with his body (being flown under a helicopter) being airlifted to the capital, La Paz.

The second part was difficult to watch as you view the utterly grim sense of hopelessness of the entire guerrilla movement. Basically a lost cause that faced many hurdles. Among them Che's deteriorating health (he had severe asthma attacks), lack of funds and supplies, the rough environment and massive indifference from the Bolivians, themselves. They didn't necessarily agree with his idealistic vision and were also very wary about a foreigner leading the guerrilla movement. I think that Che himself didn't expect it to fail. He was relentless and never lost his focus. Even though towards the end, he admitted he committed some mistakes in implementing his plan. But purposely driven by his extreme hatred for the US imperialistic rule, he stuck to his guns (pun intended) and paid dearly with his life.

Again Benicio Del Toro gets all the credit as he portrays the maturing revolutionary icon with aplomb. It seems Del Toro never deviated from his realistic characterization. Several times I felt like the actor himself was having an asthmatic attacks. Physically and phonetically, Del Toro was indeed every iota of Che Guevara. Kudos!

There is no need to watch Part One first before you view the second installment. It isn't a sequel as it borders on an entirely different storyline. It focused more on guerrilla warfare as Che had to make several decisions which would affect the outcome of the movement. It also displayed a chronological time frame of the days before his capture and execution. It was still filmed in Spanish with English subtitles and peppered with a cast of multitudes. The movie was well edited despite being 135 minutes long.

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