a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Guevara comes out a loser in "Che: Part Two"

The movie “Che: Part Two” rightfully paints Dr. Ernesto "Che" Guevara as a zealous and misdirected leader of a lost cause following his triumph in Cuba.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the second and final chapter of the epic film about the Argentinean revolutionary takes him to Bolivia for a repeat performance of the freedom fighter's one-time success of overthrowing a dictatorship.

However, his soldiers arrive in South America unprepared for the rejection they receive from Bolivian peasants who distrust foreigners, especially those from Cuba. They never warm up to Che’s mission to treat their illnesses and give them money to gather soldiers in the war against oppression. In fact, some poor farmers side with the Bolivian military aided by U.S. secret forces. Starving and ill equipped, Che leads his men into a deep ravine where they are easily surrounded and either killed or captured.

This movie is long, slow-paced and nowhere as good as “Che: Part One” that chronicle’s Guevara’s heroic victory in Cuba and arrival as a power player in the Communist movement that so troubled Washington D.C. in the 1950s and 1960s.

This tragedy presents its hero as a loser with a swelled head. Near the end Che, portrayed by Benico Del Toro with Oscar-worthy skill, spits in the face of a Bolivian commandant before his own execution, adding another casualty to a noble cause that ends in disaster.

Che had by then delivered Cuba yet another dictator in Fidel Castro, whose poor leadership was equally to blame for this blunder in South America. While Che struggled in Bolivia, Havana lost contact with his ground troops because Castro provided them with faulty radio transmitters.

One has to admire this warmonger to some degree for his bravado.

But it’s a wonder anyone would still worship Che, to whom Cuban schoolchildren continue to offer their daily pledges of allegiance. Thanks, though, to Soderbergh for crafting this story without the bias of history-glossed romanticism.

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