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Che: Part Two

August 19, 2014

Che: Part Two (2009)
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Actors: Benicio Del Toro, Franka Potente, Demian Bichir

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Synopsis: Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara (Benicio Del Toro) covertly enters Bolivia in late 1966 to effect a Marxist revolution there. Over the course of the next year, Guevara’s guerrilla movement suffers countless problems – from trouble recruiting local peasants, to low morale among his troops, his own cover being blown, and the CIA-supported Bolivian army slowly closing in on him….

Review: Steven Soderbergh’s strangely ascetic, de-iconicised and de-dramatised diptych on Che Guevara concludes with the necessarily muted counterpoint to the upbeat ascent of the Cuban Revolution of Part One. In Part Two‘s dense account of Che’s ultimate demise in a failed Bolivian uprising of 1967, Soderbergh really immerses us in the minutiae of that frustration. This half of the story is a complete pictorial, tonal and dramatic contrast to the Cuban section: Cuba was portrayed in lush, tropical, verdant tones, where as Bolivia is shown as the mountainous, attritional, inhospitable territory it is. In Cuba, Guevara was only willing to accept educated over-18s, while in Bolivia, Guevara desperately enlists anyone to his cause. And finally, the populace in Cuba are generally educated, behind the sentiment of Castro’s guerrilla movement, and Castro and Guevara are able to unite the various anti-Batista parties into one unitary force, while in Bolivia, the people are not only largely poor, provincial and uneducated, but more crucially – apathetic and indifferent to the cause. Again, Soderbergh’s austere narration and intent to wilfully frustrate a conventional, hagiographical account of Che will alienate some viewers, but I prefer to admire Soderbergh’s seriousness and steadfastness in diligently recreating this piece of history. (August 2014)

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