Che (15)

Film

689.x600.film.che.open.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
Rate this
 

Time Out says

Tue Dec 30 2008

The first thing to say about this monumental achievement from the American director Steven Soderbergh is that you should see it. The second is that you should try to see both parts in one go (you can do so on New Year’s Day, or once Part Two is released on February 20); only then do the true audacity and intelligence and the sheer formal elegance of the work become apparent.

See just Part One and it may feel like an odd, faintly flat biopic; watch it all and you see Soderbergh isn’t even out to make a biopic in any conventional sense of the term.
For one thing, of course, he didn’t need to tread the path of traditional portraiture, as Walter Salles’s‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ has already dealt with how an Argentinian medic’s encounters with suffering and injustice transformed his political awareness. Moreover, while Ernesto Guevara (Benicio Del Toro) is undoubtedly at the centre of Soderbergh’s diptych, he’s not the main focus of interest, in that this is a film about the process of revolutionary struggle.

Part One – spanning from 1955, when Guevara first met Fidel Castro (Demián Bichir) in Mexico City, to 1964, when he visited New York to address the United Nations assembly – mainly chronicles the guerilla campaign fought by a tiny, initially ragged band of rebels against the army supporting the Cuban dictator Batista. Flashing backwards and forwards in time, it frames the guerrillas’ slow but still miraculous progress, from the Sierra Maestra to a finally decisive victory in Santa Clara, within a discussion (based on Guevara’s speeches and writings) of revolutionary strategy, in terms of both practice and  theory.

During this time the pragmatic strategist Che becomes ever more crucial to Castro. But at the same time, he’s just one component in a campaign dependent on the growing support of Cuba’s peasant population.If Part One ends on an unexpectedly cool note, given the rebels’ victory, that’s not because Soderbergh has failed to provide a feelgood celebration of heroic triumph, but because it’s the midpoint of a careful consideration of Guevara’s achievements. Part Two finds him arriving incognito in Bolivia in 1966, in the hope of taking, with the help of a few Cuban comrades, the revolution to impoverished, frightened Indian farmers none too happy about foreigners stirring up the authorities against them. The infighting among the left negotiated by Castro in Cuba is more problematic in Bolivia; the CIA is sniffing around; Guevara, still plagued by asthma, is older; and where Cuba ended in glory, Bolivia brings failure and death.

In short,  Part Two stands in dramatic contrast to its predecessor, and where Part One boasts a fragmented, garrulous narrative with different time frames shot in ’Scope in different colours and black and white, the Bolivian episode is linear, quieter, shot in muted, almost monochrome greens, greys and blues, framed in a less expansive, more claustrophobic ratio. (Like the performances and the staging of action sequences, the camerawork – Soderbergh himself shooting with the new, high-def RED camera – is superb throughout.) This formal audacity is matched by an eschewal of traditional heroics; Soderbergh is interested in what it entails to fight for revolutionary ideals: not just courage, cunning, expertise, loyalty, but the hardships, sacrifices… and the cost of mistakes. It’s not a Hollywood-style movie – it demands patience and proper attention – but it’s a great movie, and rewards magnificently.
0

Reviews

Add +

Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Thu Jan 1, 2009

Duration:

253 mins

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|17
1 person listening
usman khawaja

the cold reality of an inspired martyrdom -che2 soderbergh is in a different mood in part 2 with a bearded toro who turns controversial as he mysteriously disappears from cuba in 1965 after brooding a family of five with aulia his wife . we see him arrive incognito in la paz ,bolivia and he explains his reasons for wanting to spread the revolution through central america in a country where half the miners are child labour and of those majority are dead by the age thirty and when they ask for better wages they are massacred . there is no better reason for a revolution and you can hardly argue with that point of view, but bolivia is harsh and different as here religion is used by the regime as a card against the communist guerrillas and the peasants are deceived into betraying their very saviours as godless traitors to christianity . this is very dark ,both with the muted light and colour and the cinematography is in a different frame as well with hand held camera shots of ravine crossings ,betrayals with planned massacres and dearth of food and medication . it seems like the inspired team know they are doomed but are too committed to turn back and the few reluctant mates have no choice to opt out as the noose tightens around them in a rugged natural harsh hinterland . the peasants behave much differently from the cuban populace and it seems bolivians then were not ready for the vision of che though the man was obsessed with the ideals of free and just society for them which to them was too much of a dream to fantasize . the emphasis on the fact castro is dining at the nationa while they are existing on corn if lucky and have to slaughter their horses at times is made very subtly and the comparison is not at all offensive as the two men have chosen their own fates by free choice and are fulfillling differentt roles in rather opposite directions even if the motivation mifgt be the same although that is rather vague to speculate upon in retrospest the mood becomes more desperate as the numbers of guerrillas dwindles and the americans get in the picture training local militia who are aware che is heading the uprising . the cold and pathetic behaviour of the natives is well depicted and the deceptions documented in a very unsentimental manner ,there are some definitive moments here where pessimism grabs hold of the camera as well as the characters in a pathos which is equal to a greek tragedy except we are in a bolivian forest rather then a studio stage where the ambiance almost oozes and drips off the characters onto the audience . this is simple genius and sonderberg has staged this with a detached emotion which makes it a reality show rather then a fake historical enactment . the logistics of shooting this and the shoot must have been phenomenal as i think the suffering the revolutionaries went through is reflected onto the celluloid in a unique manner . but it also gives them a nobility where they are levitated above rest of humanity particularly as we can proclaim without a whimper of doubt that che was acting out of his true belief for improving the state of an ailing humanity and that makes him a pure soul in itself and a redeemed spirit . the end result is of no consequence as you see that both bolivia and venezuela have native democratic leaders today and are regarded as the harshest critics of a state that stands for capitalism . that this capitalism is responsible for the poverty of the third world itself by getting the mass poor population to boost the capitalistic economy is what che was fighting against and soderbergh and del toro have translated that sacred vision to screen in a manner which defies any applause or appraisal as it is a life time achievement .

usman khawaja

the cold reality of an inspired martyrdom -che2 soderbergh is in a different mood in part 2 with a bearded toro who turns controversial as he mysteriously disappears from cuba in 1965 after brooding a family of five with aulia his wife . we see him arrive incognito in la paz ,bolivia and he explains his reasons for wanting to spread the revolution through central america in a country where half the miners are child labour and of those majority are dead by the age thirty and when they ask for better wages they are massacred . there is no better reason for a revolution and you can hardly argue with that point of view, but bolivia is harsh and different as here religion is used by the regime as a card against the communist guerrillas and the peasants are deceived into betraying their very saviours as godless traitors to christianity . this is very dark ,both with the muted light and colour and the cinematography is in a different frame as well with hand held camera shots of ravine crossings ,betrayals with planned massacres and dearth of food and medication . it seems like the inspired team know they are doomed but are too committed to turn back and the few reluctant mates have no choice to opt out as the noose tightens around them in a rugged natural harsh hinterland . the peasants behave much differently from the cuban populace and it seems bolivians then were not ready for the vision of che though the man was obsessed with the ideals of free and just society for them which to them was too much of a dream to fantasize . the emphasis on the fact castro is dining at the nationa while they are existing on corn if lucky and have to slaughter their horses at times is made very subtly and the comparison is not at all offensive as the two men have chosen their own fates by free choice and are fulfillling differentt roles in rather opposite directions even if the motivation mifgt be the same although that is rather vague to speculate upon in retrospest the mood becomes more desperate as the numbers of guerrillas dwindles and the americans get in the picture training local militia who are aware che is heading the uprising . the cold and pathetic behaviour of the natives is well depicted and the deceptions documented in a very unsentimental manner ,there are some definitive moments here where pessimism grabs hold of the camera as well as the characters in a pathos which is equal to a greek tragedy except we are in a bolivian forest rather then a studio stage where the ambiance almost oozes and drips off the characters onto the audience . this is simple genius and sonderberg has staged this with a detached emotion which makes it a reality show rather then a fake historical enactment . the logistics of shooting this and the shoot must have been phenomenal as i think the suffering the revolutionaries went through is reflected onto the celluloid in a unique manner . but it also gives them a nobility where they are levitated above rest of humanity particularly as we can proclaim without a whimper of doubt that che was acting out of his true belief for improving the state of an ailing humanity and that makes him a pure soul in itself and a redeemed spirit . the end result is of no consequence as you see that both bolivia and venezuela have native democratic leaders today and are regarded as the harshest critics of a state that stands for capitalism . that this capitalism is responsible for the poverty of the third world itself by getting the mass poor population to boost the capitalistic economy is what che was fighting against and soderbergh and del toro have translated that sacred vision to screen in a manner which defies any applause or appraisal as it is a life time achievement .

usman khawaja

there is no doubt that this will haunt you for years whether you love or hate this sprawling biopic epic of a very complex and noble spirit who might be controversial but will never be regarded as anythinhg but a great reformer and revolutionary with a vision that most humanity only dreams about yet this man took to actually define it in a practical manner and suceeded as well because death in itself is not a failure but a redemption whereas the ideals that he sparked are moulding and changing the globe today. the first part sees benicio del toro arrive on a boat from mexico to cuba with 80 other revolutionaries who then engage in a long drawn military campaign finally toppling batista regime and making cuba the only country in america which is free of american intervention . this part is fascinating where you see che become comandante from a foreign intruder as he metes out blind justice to both the opressors and the revolutionaries who step out of line . the character and principles of the man are dramatically established without melodrama or sermons to the point you subconciously start to respect him in an amazing manner with a tour de force act by benicio . he is a stalwart and he plays the stalwart with a laconic restraint and the asthmatic episodes make him look so vulnerable and yet endearing that you almost adore the journey through cuban forests with ragtag rebels in ragged uniforms and a lot of physical suffering . there are lot of violent scenes and a brilliant street battle staged for the capture of the crucial city of santa clara which is technically a masterpiece to execute and the action is immaculate . the spirit of the ordinary cubans is demonstrated by minor characters in subtle sophistication where two teen age brothers refuse to leave despite being rejected for guerilla service . in the back of your mind you know they will be labelled as terrorists today and that makes you chuckle as they are absolutely moral and heroic in their courage fighting a corrupt unjust regime . i was rather surprised by the visit of che to united nations and the tongue in cheek way he trashes the opposition . here che becomes a fair ,adorable ,iconic intellectual and a dashing soldier and a victorious military hero while evoking some real emotion in both your concious and subconcious . benicio has acted everyone off the screen with his total transformation into the very skin of the character as you start to feel what he is thinking in a psychic act where he penetrates inside your head . this is not traditional entertainment but historically accurate depiction without heroic propaganda or glory of war but rather makes it look as the ugly horror it is but describes it as the ony choice to change when a popular uprising is crushed by a totatilitarian regime and i speculate that imam khomenei followed the same example decades later in iran to get rid of the evil shah . the relationship he develops with his wife here is rather full of humour and there are enough light hearted moments to make you smile in a grim journey through cuba juxtaposed with a witty television interview footage mixed with monochrome and colour images which give it a gritty real look . a cherished classic creating castros cuba with an argentine dreamer

usman khawaja

there is no doubt that this will haunt you for years whether you love or hate this sprawling biopic epic of a very complex and noble spirit who might be controversial but will never be regarded as anythinhg but a great reformer and revolutionary with a vision that most humanity only dreams about yet this man took to actually define it in a practical manner and suceeded as well because death in itself is not a failure but a redemption whereas the ideals that he sparked are moulding and changing the globe today. the first part sees benicio del toro arrive on a boat from mexico to cuba with 80 other revolutionaries who then engage in a long drawn military campaign finally toppling batista regime and making cuba the only country in america which is free of american intervention . this part is fascinating where you see che become comandante from a foreign intruder as he metes out blind justice to both the opressors and the revolutionaries who step out of line . the character and principles of the man are dramatically established without melodrama or sermons to the point you subconciously start to respect him in an amazing manner with a tour de force act by benicio . he is a stalwart and he plays the stalwart with a laconic restraint and the asthmatic episodes make him look so vulnerable and yet endearing that you almost adore the journey through cuban forests with ragtag rebels in ragged uniforms and a lot of physical suffering . there are lot of violent scenes and a brilliant street battle staged for the capture of the crucial city of santa clara which is technically a masterpiece to execute and the action is immaculate . the spirit of the ordinary cubans is demonstrated by minor characters in subtle sophistication where two teen age brothers refuse to leave despite being rejected for guerilla service . in the back of your mind you know they will be labelled as terrorists today and that makes you chuckle as they are absolutely moral and heroic in their courage fighting a corrupt unjust regime . i was rather surprised by the visit of che to united nations and the tongue in cheek way he trashes the opposition . here che becomes a fair ,adorable ,iconic intellectual and a dashing soldier and a victorious military hero while evoking some real emotion in both your concious and subconcious . benicio has acted everyone off the screen with his total transformation into the very skin of the character as you start to feel what he is thinking in a psychic act where he penetrates inside your head . this is not traditional entertainment but historically accurate depiction without heroic propaganda or glory of war but rather makes it look as the ugly horror it is but describes it as the ony choice to change when a popular uprising is crushed by a totatilitarian regime and i speculate that imam khomenei followed the same example decades later in iran to get rid of the evil shah . the relationship he develops with his wife here is rather full of humour and there are enough light hearted moments to make you smile in a grim journey through cuba juxtaposed with a witty television interview footage mixed with monochrome and colour images which give it a gritty real look . a cherished classic creating castros cuba with an argentine dreamer

Chuck

Brilliant film. Reminds me of true auteur cinema from the 70s where you can disappear into a world and spend time with the characters rather suffer predictably timed plot points and 'clever' dramatic twists with a neat 'satisfying' ending. If you're up for something intelligent and original, you'll be well rewarded with this film. Can't wait for part 2.

Chuck

Brilliant film. Reminds me of true auteur cinema from the 70s where you can disappear into a world and spend time with the characters rather suffer predictably timed plot points and 'clever' dramatic twists with a neat 'satisfying' ending. If you're up for something intelligent and original, you'll be well rewarded with this film. Can't wait for part 2.

24db

Pretty boring sadly, and I fell asleep in the first hour, although I hung on until the bitter end. Very overated

critique

(Part One only) - Technically accomplished and well presented but doesn`t succeed as a drama or as an entertainment.

Bara Evans

Boring action movie masquerading as a statement. St Che and St Fidel romp through a revolution that left the Cuban people in poverty and fear but you get no sense of that. Just lots of bang bang and good looking actors playing social workers.

Otis

I thought this was a pretty two-dimensional, bland film. I can't pass judgement yet though, I haven't seen part two. But this first half was nothing special. Definitely not worth my £10 cinema fee at the Renoir!!! I do think some of these history-based films tend to fail by having to squeeze too much in. I felt the same about the Baader Meinhof complex.

Sutton

An interesting and enjoyable movie, with a great lead performance from Del Toro. I'm curious to find out how much of the film is truthful as Che comes across with a great deal of humanity, be nice to believe it is accurate.

chemicalI

Spellbinding. Wonderful film; a compelling story brilliantly told about a man whose principles and convictions remained more important to him than private and personal needs throughout his life. A hero for anyone who cares about humankind. The film does not glamourise Che or the revolutionary story but gives us a real feeling of what it was like for the revolutionaries or the countries' peasants. A must see.

chemicalI

Spellbinding. Wonderful film; a compelling story brilliantly told about a man whose principles and convictions remained more important to him than private and personal needs throughout his life. A hero for anyone who cares about humankind. The film does not glamourise Che or the revolutionary story but gives us a real feeling of what it was like for the revolutionaries or the countries' peasants. A must see.

alex stevenson

I saw this at the New York Film Festival also, and I am seeing it again. The person before me is right. It is a masterpiece. It is hard to believe it is so long. Benicio is also amazing as Che and the guy who plays Fidel is good too.

alex stevenson

I saw this at the New York Film Festival also, and I am seeing it again. The person before me is right. It is a masterpiece. It is hard to believe it is so long. Benicio is also amazing as Che and the guy who plays Fidel is good too.