Che: Parts 1 & 2 Blu-ray
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Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Produced in 2008
Main Language - Spanish with English subtitles
Initiated by a clearly passionate Benicio Del Toro (who purchased the rights to Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life in 1997), Che (which was released as a pair of films subtitled ‘The Argentine’ and ‘Guerilla’) is a surprising and subtle film that manages to combine gravitas with sweep in a way that satisfies the intellect and the desire for spectacle.
‘The Argentine’ opens amid a flurry of film stocks (a trope more familiar to fans of Oliver Stone but here used to great effect to distinguish where the viewer ‘is’ at any one time) with Che in Havana in 1964, interviewed by a reporter about the Cuban revolution, before cutting back to his initial meeting with Fidel Castro in a bedroom of beatniks in 1955. Flash forward to 1964 and Che is addressing the United Nations General Assembly, ambivalently bestriding a position that attacks American imperialism whilst defending the executions committed by Castro’s regime. And then back, to street fighting, the Battle of Santa Clara, tactics, strategy, warfare – the Cuban Revolution, blow by blow. ‘Guerilla’ is revolutionary life writ large: Che ingratiating himself with the campesinos, dealing with food shortages, betrayals, deserters, botched preparations and, perhaps surprisingly, sustained bouts of asthma. There are skirmishes, aerial bombardments and inevitably defeat, with Che trapped and captured by the Bolivian army and betrayed by the CIA before his execution.
In an interview, Del Toro has described Che (the person) as ‘a weird combination of an intellectual and an action figure, Gregory Peck and Steve McQueen, wrapped in one.’ The same, curiously enough, could apply to Che (the movie), which manages to tread the fine line between arthouse and popcorn flick. It may be that Soderbergh’s Che is a different kettle of fish to the Che we would have seen if Terence Malick had seen the project through to fruition but, for all that what we are left with is very much ‘a man of rags and patches’, arguably this is as close as we are likely to get to knowing the great, troubled, complicated man himself – and surely there is no greater recommendation for a biopic than that.
Peter Wild on 29th May 2009
Author of 99 reviews
Soderbergh's epic double bill about Marxist revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. The first part, The Argentine, focuses on the Cuban revolution from when Fidel Castro, Guevara and other revolutionaries landed on the Caribbean island to when they successfully toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista two years later. The second part, Guerilla, focuses on Che's futile attempt to bring revolution to Bolivia, as well as his ill-fated demise.
Publisher: Optimum Releasing
Length: 265 mins
Format: Blu-ray Colour
Released: 29th June 2009
Cat No: OPTBD1567