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The Motorcycle Diaries

Let the world change you... and you can change the world 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Motorcycle Diaries

Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born in Rosario, Argentina on the 14th of June 1928 to a middle class family and Motorcycle Diaries depicts the road trip he undertook with his friend Alberto Granado in 1951. The film essentially suggests that this 4000-mile long motorcycle journey was responsible for turning Ernesto Guevara into "Che" Guevara, the revolutionary known for aiding Fidel Castro in Cuba. However, the film is based around Granardo and Guevara's own diaries from the trip and serves much more as a buddy movie than any political biography. In fact, other than the use of Guevara as a character, the film holds no discernible political elements, although certain events that might have been responsible for Guevara's future political persuasions are hinted at.

'Hispanic' cinema has been permeating into 'mainstream' culture more and more in recent years, with directors such as Pedro Almodovar and Alfonso Cuaron bringing their films to the attention of European audiences (Cuaron even directed the third Harry Potter film), and Fernando Meirelles' film City of God achieved unanimous critical acclaim. The use of Gael Garcia Bernal to play Guevara is a sensible choice given his rising star status, and indeed his suitability for the role is quickly justified. Walter Selle's film is certainly very 'Hispanic' in its presentation: the humour and way of life portrayed seems very believably South American. This film is beautifully shot, with the director revelling in the stunning scenery of the various countries along the way, particularly the friends' visit to the Inca remains at Manchu Pichu. The film manages to retain a humorous edge throughout, and the fact that it is presented in Spanish with English subtitles does not detract from it in any way; on the contrary it renders the film all the more authentic.

Overall, Diarios de motocicleta presents a sensitive, humorous and confidently shot film which sits atop the buddy movie genre, and will further the growing reputation of Spanish cinema.

Charles Tomlinson

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Spring Term (35mm)