but where's Che?
The Motorcycle Diaries
could have been a contender in the Best Foreign Film
category, but at a time when Terri Schiavo is still fighting
for her right to die—or her husband, rather, is fighting for
that right—I’m glad that
The Sea Inside
won. Let’s just get Schiavo’s parents to sit down and watch
it. By the way, if you didn’t already know, ‘schiavo’ means
‘slave’ in Italian. Every time I read something about her, I
think that she is both a slave to the machines that keep her
alive and to the political struggle around what should be a
Anyway, back to the
I guess I’m a little late with commentary on Oscar
nominations, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I saw
The Motorcycle Diaries.
I’m let down that it wasn’t nominated for something more
substantial than ‘Best Song’ or ‘Best Screenplay.’ I’m glad
that ‘Al Otro Lado del Rio’ won, despite Antonio Banderas’
mangling the sweet melody!
Why was it not nominated? It got
overwhelmingly good reviews. Beautiful cinematography of
evocative scenery. Great acting by the two leads. Gael García Bernal ain’t too hard to look at either! The genres
of “road movie,” “buddy movie,” and “coming of age story”
are dressed up and given an international twist. You laugh.
You think. You might cry. I loved the part in which Che gets
his nickname. I had never known how he got that or what it
meant. Since my husband does a hilarious Argentine accent,
mostly imitating soccer commentators, I had heard the word
“che” many times before, not thinking about what it meant,
And the story. If you watch
the 90 or so minutes of this film, you will enjoy the story
of a young Ernesto Guevara shaking the cobwebs from his
middle-class upbringing. But maybe it’s what came after in
his life that kept this film from being nominated. “The
story of a cruel and violent Communist? We can’t have that
at the Oscars!” Would we enjoy a
movie that tells the story of the young, aspiring
Austrian artist who grows up to be Hitler? I don’t know. But
there’s several enormous differences between Che and Adolph.
There was really nothing in
The Motorcycle Diaries
that let the viewer know
kind of Communist young Ernesto would grow up to be.
We see the start of his transformation and completely
without feeling manipulated ourselves, we start to think
about the distribution of land and wealth all over the
world. We think a bit more about American history—and by
‘American,’ I’m talking about two continents and not one
country. Is the movie something people like me enjoy because
it assuages our Liberal, bourgeois guilt? Maybe. But I’m not
like the kids you see all over Europe with their Che
T-shirts, posters, car decals, etc. I know enough about Che
to admire what he stood for and also be disappointed that he
chose the methods he did to accomplish his goals.
As for the film not being
political enough—something one reads in the reviews—I’m fine
with that. Critics and moviegoers in the US need to perhaps
learn a little bit about subtlety. I’m happy we weren’t beat
over the heads with the “I’m gonna be a Communist!” theme
that the movie could have exploited.
For much harsher commentary,
read this on Slate.com.