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The rise and fall of Che Guevara

Latest update : 2008-05-22

Steven Soderbergh presented his four and a half hour epic on Che Guevara Wednesday night. The powerful film is a strong contender for the Golden Palm, and is not without hidden political references. Read Arnab Banerjee's review

An ‘epic film’ in two parts
After having presented Ocean’s Thirteen last year out of competition, prime Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh is back, in competition this time, with Che, a four and a half hour epic in two parts on legendary Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara. 
In Cannes Wednesday, a banner of Che Guevara graced the building opposite the Lumière cinema theatre, where films in competition are screened. Young fans of the Che Guevara lined up since the morning to try to get tickets for the screening. 
A screening which, in reality, scared a lot of festival-goers away. The two parts of Che, to be released separtely in October and November were screened one after the other in Canns - taking away almost five hours in one’s schedule.  
Indeed, the epic film that lasts more than three hours is scarce in our times. But Che will definitely the annals of epic film history, more so because it follows a principle of the genre that dates back to Greek poet Homer - a narrative centred on the rise and fall of one central character. 
Che - the rise and the fall
The version of Che presented in competition is not the final version that is to hit the screens this winter. Nevertheless, the film’s concentrated and documented portrayal of Che Guevara left the serious cinema goer awestruck. The sheer determination of Benicio Del Toro’s interpretation of Guevara commands respect not only for the character, but also his cause. 
The first part, provisionally called The Argentine narrates how Che Guevara helped Fidel Castro overthrow Cuban dictator Batista in 1959. The army of guerillas, ushered on by the people captures one Batista stronghold after the other. An excellently filmed battle in Santa Clara is followed by the ultimate step - the taking over of Havana. 
The second part, called The Guerilla ,starts in 1965, when Guevara leaves Cuba to continue his revolutionary doctrine in Bolivia. While The Argentine focused more on Che’s ideals and revolutionary doctrine, The Guerilla concentrates on his superhuman determination faced with conditions that keep on deteriorationg. With the help of the United States, the Bolivian army crushes the guerilla movement, and executes the Che. 
The Guerilla is the more contemplative of the two parts, and the stark yet stunning photography in the Bolivian forests smoothly complements the guerilla’s state of mind. 
In the end, the story of Che is simply the tragic story of a character whose ideals led to his rise, and his downfall, much like classic Greek tradegy. 
Watch the entire show by clicking "The Cannes Reports" in the right column.

Check out web correspondent Arnab Banerjee’s video blog.




21/05/08 'Lorna's Silence' - the Dardennes nearing saturation?

19/05/08 Sociological phenomenon or just a movie ? 

17/05/08 Critics are eyeing a French palm d’or 

16/05/08 Cannes openers set somber tone 






Date created : 2008-05-22