Che: Part Two
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Ernesto 'Che' Guevara (diary), Peter Buchman, Benjamin A. van
der Veen (screenplay)
Screening at from 21st February
From the opening scenes of this film, it is clear that Steven Soderbergh
has taken a very different approach in the second part of his Che Guevara
biopic. We see Fidel Castro (Demián Bichir), reading aloud Che's
last letter, explaining why he has left his position in Cuba and is seeking
to train and fight with guerilla movements in other countries, to overthrow
their US-backed regimes. Why? Because "in a revolution one wins or
dies". Guevara sensed an isolated victory in Cuba was not enough.
Soderbergh is providing the sense of motivation he neglected in Part One.
A year on, and Benicio Del Toro's Che (or rather 'Ramón') arrives
undercover in Bolivia. His attempts at revolution in Congo had already
failed spectacularly, yet he believed he would have more success struggling
against the government of René Barrientos.
Anyone who saw the first instalment might expect that they'd be in for
another two hours of carefully re-enacted battle scenes, but this is not
the case. Though the film progresses at a snail's pace, this turns out
to be a great strength. Whereas, scene to scene, it may seem like very
little is happening, small but significant events are taking place - a
tired glance here, a raised word there - like pressure building up, which
will explode onto the 'surface' of the plot.
The end result is a much fuller picture of what it must have been like
to be involved, and a much deeper representation of the social context
in which it all took place. Soderbergh makes excellent use of dilemmas
that characters are confronted with. In real life, these were pivotal
moments in the struggle, where people made key decisions based on ideas
of material strength and weakness. Should the peasant support the guerillas
who promise him better social conditions, or the government who threaten
violence against him and his family? Should the Communist Party leader
defy Moscow and back Guevara? Should the President call a state of emergency
and announce that Guevara is leading the revolt, and risk losing popular
Ultimately, Guevara's army was defeated, he was executed, and his theory
that a small, dedicated group of men could lead a guerilla revolution
without waiting for revolutionary conditions amongst the mass of the population
was dealt a deathblow. Still - even marketed by the profit system as a
heroic, miraculous, Christ-like individual - Guevara continues to inspire
millions around the world, who long to fight back against oppression here
and now, without waiting another moment.