I recently went to see CHE: PART 2 (the follow up to CHE: PART 1, which took us through the struggle to overthrow Batista’s regime and introduce a socialist government into Cuba), which depicted the failed attempt of Che Guevara to spread the revolution to Bolivia, leading to his capture and execution.
Before I had seen either part, I expected a more in-depth look at Che Guevara’s life before and throughout the revolution, something a little closer to THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES. However, as the name tells us, the film was not an account of the life of Ernesto Che Guevara, it was an account of the short lived life of ‘Che’ – revolutionary, guerrilla soldier and nowadays a symbol of the socialist ideals in many of us, whether we believe they could be put into practice or not.
Benicio Del Toro’s performance was excellent, and he lived up to the task of presenting the dynamics of such a legendary historical figure well. Not only that, but he bared a good resemblance to Che, so much so that I was unsure as to what footage was Benicio Del Toro and what footage was Che himself.
It was nice to see the events presented visually, as the somewhat limited information I have on the struggle in South America has only been from books and conversation, so I enjoyed being able to see Soderbergh’s interpretation, rather than imagining it myself.
Both part 1 and 2 contained some stunning cinematography, and sitting in the cinema watching the beautiful landscapes and dense rainforest, I felt an urge to go travelling in South America, an extremely similar feeling experienced whilst watching THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES.
I think one of the main differences between the two parts was the way in which part 2 was presented very much as a thriller at times, as could be recognised from the tense soundtrack played in the jungle battle scenes, as the unfortunate fate of the Bolivian struggle was brought closer and closer to us, ultimately ending in the death of Che. The execution itself was presented in quite an abstract way, which I found very interesting, and I feel it was shown with the appropriate degree of dramatisation without being too histrionic.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed both part 1 and 2, I did feel that the jungle battle scenes overran, maybe even the trimming of some of those scenes could have made it possible to distribute the two sections together. This would have also solved the problem I had with my mind being removed from the first part after having to wait so long until seeing the second, making it more difficult to see the films together in terms of narrative.
With that said, I did very much enjoy both films and will most probably be watching the two sections back to back in the future.
Review by LiveWire Critic, Alice Toomer-McAlpine (Feb ’09)