One Last Thing

Mary Cuevas

Mary Cuevas

Mary Cuevas
Tucson, Arizona, USA
November 08
Freelance writer, educator, blogger. Have dabbled in documentary filmmaking. Dropped out of college to experience life. Lived in most major cities in USA and also London, England and Wellington, New Zealand. Waited tables while traveling and living for these ten years. Returned to college, studied history at UCLA, earned a BA. Taught overseas in Bogota, Colombia and Gumi, S. Korea.


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Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 7, 2009 3:30PM

Che: Part One and Part Two

Rate: 3 Flag

Che: Part One and Part Two

Movie Poster uploaded on Flickr by Cine Fanatico

If you are hoping to learn everything about Che Guevara from these two films, you will be disappointed. If you read about Che on Wikipedia or the most excellent book by Jon Lee Anderson, Che Guevara, A Revolutionary Life
before coming to these two films, you will love what you see.

Che Guevara, uploaded on Flickr by Ray Cunningham

I was hoping for more history other than how they took Cuba and what happened when Che went to Bolivia. I was hoping director Steven Soderbergh and producers Benico Del Toro and Laura Bickman, who produced Traffic, would have taken us on a journey beyond Cuba and Bolivia.

Che Guevara, photo uploaded on Flickr
I was hoping to see Che in Africa, his relationship with the existentialists Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and his relationship with his second wife, Aleida, who he met on the revolutionary trail in Cuba. I was hoping to see more of Che's complex relationship with Fidel.

Che Guevara in Africa with President Nasser of Egypt, Pan-African News Wire

Instead, the film takes place primarily in the mountains of Cuba and the jungles of Bolivia.
There is some footage of Che's trip to the United Nations in New York, the interview with a journalist played by Julia Ormand, and the party he attended at her apartment full of New York intellectuals later that evening.

Che Guevara on Meet the Press, 1964, Pan-African News Wire

I did stay long enough through the credits to see that they did indeed use Jon Lee Anderson as their chief consultant. Excellent choice. I wonder if Soderbergh read the 754 page book and then decided to make this film.

The Anderson book is a thoroughly researched biography that reads like great fiction. I knew what happened to Che in the end, but cried all the same. The book gives such great little insights I never knew. Like how Che was banging the maid in the kitchen when he was very young in his upper class home.

Che's motorcyle

How the motorcycle trip he took through South America is what turned him away from his bourgeois existence and into a revolutionary. He could have easily finished his studies and lived a comfortable life as a doctor, married with children, and mistresses.

A side note, if you have not seen the film, Motorcyle Diaries, I highly recommend you rent it. The film is a perfect depiction of this defining time in Che's young life.

After his trip through South America, Che returned to Buenos Aires to finish his medical studies in record breaking time of three years. He took another trip up through South America into Central America and ended up in Mexico City. This is where he met Fidel. They spent many a late night discussing poetry, philosophy, and the revolution.

Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in Cuba after the revolution

As a matter of fact, they start the film in Mexico City at a dinner party.

And near the end of the film there is a flashback of the boat ride to Cuba. Fidel and Che managed to buy an old fishing boat and convince 80-100 recruits to join them on this revolutionary journey. Che looks at Fidel standing at the other end of the boat. A look to me that said he wasn't sure he trusted Fidel.

Fidel and Che in heated discussion

Many think Che was betrayed by Fidel and abandoned in Bolivia. We get some indication of this in Part Two when Che is in need of funding and asks a journalist to get a letter to Jean-Paul Sartre and Betrand Russell telling them he needs more financing for his revolution.
Benicio Del Toro, photo uploaded on Flickr

Benicio Del Toro does a great job in his film. Fidel is played by the actor who plays the mayor of Tijuana in the Showtime Series Weeds. It is shot in a docudrama stye by Soderbergh. He often shoots his own films under the name Peter Andrews.

I am glad this film was made. I hope it sparks an interest in Che Guevara's life other than his image on t-shirts and posters that adorn many a college dorm room. It is an important part of history that sadly did not make my high school history books.
Movie Poster uploaded by Cine Fanatico on Flickr
Posted by Mary Cuevas 

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I want to see this so badly. It is not yet showing in the Orlando area.

Benecio is the best and I wante to more about the subject matter.
hi dorinda,
it is a great film. i personally loved it. but i love che and read and see anything on or about him. so i recommend trying to get a brief overview before going into the theater.:)

when aleida shows up in part one, i knew who she was. if you don't and then you see part two where they show them married with children, you might get a little confused.

the part where fidel reads the letter che wrote is so important. it is hotly debated topic... there falling out or lack of a falling out. some believe fidel was jealous, or che did something that pissed him off so he left him in bolivia.

the shot of benicio on the boat in end looking at fidel with those piercing eyes said it all for me. glad soderbergh and benicio included that shot.:)

thanks for commenting.:)
Both parts 1 and 2 are on my cable-on-demand -- and I've been sorely tempted to click. But I've actually got the Anderson book. Maybe I'll read it first, then splurge.

Nice write up.
thanks kerry:)
well the book is some 700 plus pages.:) but ever so good. probably the best bio i've read in a long time. read one on jean genet years ago that was just as good.

anyway, my point being, i was absolutely thrilled they used jon lee anderson as chief consultant. when i heard soderbergh was making this film, i wanted desperately to contact soderbergh and tell him to use anderson.

i did contact del toro's agent some 5-6 years ago. wanted del toro to narrate my doc film. his agent said del toro saw my short and my project was something he would be interested in, but i should contact him after i got funding so we could see if time schedules allowed. that in itself sent me reeling and my heart a pounding.

the agent told me about the soderbergh film and where they were filming. think i may have mentioned anderson to the agent, but i am certain soderbergh or his peeps knew about the book before measly old me mentioned it.

you see kerry, i am in love with del toro. wanted him for my doc because role in the film traffic, but would have of course loved to get to know him as well on the shoot.:) seriously and professionally, i wanted him as narrator because he played that honest cop trying to fight the never ending war on drugs in a most honorable way.:)

the short doc i made covers how the war effected a community on the pacific coast of colombia. the feature length, with del toro, hopefully, as narrator, was going to cover the drug war and its impact on innocent civilians.

anyway, del toro makes good choices and i think took on this role as che bravely and did an outstanding job. i am impressed that he was a producer as well. right on del toro. and i hope the masses go out and see this film. it covers what it was like to fight a guerilla war and the sacrifices che and his warriors made to take cuba from the corrupt prez who was bleeding the poor people dry.

thanks for the editor's pick.:)
Oh, Benicio is soooooooooo hot. He and Javier Bardem are my favorites. Thank you for funding my fantasies.
hi delia!!!!
benicio and javier bardem are my favorites as well!!! but also love gael garcia bernal. he looked so good in y tu mama tambien and in babel. and he played che in motorcycle diaries. thing is gael still looks like a boy. benicio and javier are more like real men.:) anyway....

thanks for commenting!!!
My wife will want to see this. Che is a saint to many Hispanics. I once checked out the big Bio about him, but someone had torn out pages and trashed the book.
hi anthony,
thanks for commenting. well it is a great two part docudrama. and yes he is loved in latin america.:)
thanks for commenting.
Hello there,
Good well-thought out article about Che...I worked through Che: the book and he is a fascinating character. In terms of the Fidel/Che relationship, you need to remember that, Fidel was more of an up front leader; whereas, Che had more of a prominent role behind the scenes...Also, Fidel seemed more content with just keeping Cuba; where as, Che wanted to export the revolution to South America and stop any sign of American influence...

One good book to get a sense of who Che was is entitled, "Guerrilla Warfare". In this book, he argues that, a Guerrilla fighter needs to be a vanguard of the masses, and needs to adopt an agrarian stance in order to get support of the masses. Also, they need to be flexible and create favourable conditions in order to make a revolution possible. As opposed to waiting for the conditions to happen naturally.