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Edgar Frolov
Edgar Frolov

Che: Part One BEST

Che is a two-part 2008 biographical film about Argentine Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, directed by Steven Soderbergh. Rather than follow a standard chronological order, the films offer an oblique series of interspersed moments along the overall timeline. Part One is titled The Argentine and focuses on the Cuban Revolution from the landing of Fidel Castro, Guevara, and other revolutionaries in Cuba to their successful toppling of Fulgencio Batista's dictatorship two years later. Part Two is titled Guerrilla and focuses on Guevara's attempt to bring revolution to Bolivia and his demise. Both parts are shot in a cinéma vérité style, but each has different approaches to linear narrative, camerawork and the visual look. It stars Benicio del Toro as Guevara, with an ensemble cast that includes Demián Bichir, Rodrigo Santoro, Santiago Cabrera, Franka Potente, Julia Ormond, Vladimir Cruz, Marc-André Grondin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Joaquim de Almeida, Édgar Ramírez, Yul Vazquez, Unax Ugalde, Alfredo De Quesada, and Oscar Isaac.

Che: Part One


The second part begins on 3 November 1966 with Guevara arriving in Bolivia disguised as a middle-aged representative of the Organization of American States hailing from Uruguay, who subsequently drives into the mountains to meet his men. The film is organized by the number of days that he was in the country. On Day 26, there is solidarity among Guevara's men despite his status as a foreigner. By Day 67, Guevara, however, has been set up for betrayal. He tries to recruit some peasants only to be mistaken for a cocaine smuggler, and the Bolivian Communist Party, led by Mario Monje, refuse to support the armed struggle. On Day 100, there is a shortage of food and Guevara exercises discipline to resolve conflicts between his Cuban and Bolivian followers.

Del Toro and Bickford hired screenwriter Benjamin A. van der Veen to write the screenplay's first drafts, and their extensive research took them to Cuba where they met with several of the remaining members of Guevara's team in Bolivia as well as the revolutionary's wife and children. It was during this phase of development that the filmmakers discovered Terrence Malick had been in Bolivia as a journalist in 1966 working on a story about Che. Malick came on as director and worked on the screenplay with van der Veen and Del Toro, but after a year-and-a-half, the financing had not come together entirely and Malick left to make The New World, a film about Jamestown, Virginia.[3] Afraid that their multi-territory deals would fall apart, Bickford and Del Toro asked Steven Soderbergh, who was previously on board as producer, to direct.[3] The filmmaker was drawn to the contrast of "engagement versus disengagement. Do we want to participate or observe? Once Che made the decision to engage, he engaged fully. Often people attribute that to a higher power, but as an atheist, he didn't have that. I found that very interesting".[12] Furthermore, he remarked that Guevara was "great movie material" and "had one of the most fascinating lives" that he could "imagine in the last century".[13] Bickford and Del Toro realized that there was no context for what made Guevara decide to go to Bolivia. They began looking for someone to rewrite the screenplay; Peter Buchman was recommended to them because he had a good reputation for writing about historical figures, based on a script he worked about Alexander the Great.[14] He spent a year reading every available book on Guevara in preparation for writing the script. The project was put on hold when Bickford and Del Toro made Traffic with Soderbergh.[5]

Soderbergh wanted to incorporate Guevara's experiences in Cuba and at the United Nations in 1964. Buchman helped with the script's structure, which he gave three storylines: Guevara's life and the Cuban Revolution; his demise in Bolivia; and his trip to New York to speak at the U.N. Buchman found that the problem with containing all of these stories in one film was that he had to condense time and this distorted history.[5] Soderbergh found the draft Buchman submitted to him "unreadable" and after two weeks decided to split the script into two separate films.[3] Buchman went back and with Del Toro expanded the Cuban story for The Argentine.[3] Additional research included reading Guevara's diaries and declassified documents from the U.S. State Department about his trip to New York and memos from his time in Bolivia.[5]

In 2006, shortly before the U.N. Headquarters underwent major renovations, Del Toro and Soderbergh shot the scenes of Guevara speaking to the U.N. General Assembly in 1964.[5] The director wanted to shoot the first part of The Argentine in Cuba, but was prevented from travelling there by the U.S. government's embargo.[21] Doubling Santa Clara proved to be difficult because it was a certain size and had a certain look. Soderbergh spent four to five months scouting for a suitable replacement, looking at towns in Veracruz/Yucatán before settling on Campeche, which had the elements they needed.[21]

Each half of the film focuses on a different revolution, both fundamentally the same in theory but vastly different in outcome, reflecting the Marxist notion of dialectics.[22] Soderbergh wanted the film's two parts to mimic the voice of the two diaries they were based on; the Cuban diaries were written after the fact and, according to the director, "with a certain hindsight and perspective and a tone that comes from being victorious", while the Bolivian diaries were "contemporaneous, and they're very isolated and have no perspective, at all. It's a much more tense read, because the outcome is totally unclear".[23]

Soderbergh shot the films back-to-back in the beginning of July 2007 with Guerrilla shot first in Spain for 39 days and The Argentine shot in Puerto Rico and Mexico for 39 days. The director conceived The Argentine as "a Hollywood movie" shot in widescreen 'scope aspect ratio, with the camera either fixed or moving on a dolly or a Steadicam.[3] Guerrilla was shot, according to Soderbergh, "in Super-16, 1.85:1. No dollies, no cranes, it's all either handheld or tripods. I want it to look nice but simple. We'll work with a very small group: basically me, the producer Gregory Jacobs and the unit production manager".[19] According to the director, the portion set in Cuba was written from the victor's perspective and as a result he adopted a more traditional look with classical compositions, vibrant color and a warm palette.[21] With Guerrilla, he wanted a sense of foreboding with hand-held camerawork and a muted color palette. Soderbergh told his production designer Antxon Gomez that the first part would have green with a lot of yellow in it and the second part would have green with a lot of blue in it.[21]

Che opened in single theaters in N.Y.C. and L.A. where it made $60,100 with sellouts of both venues.[43] Based on this success, IFC Films executives added two weekends of exclusive runs for the roadshow version, starting 24 December in N.Y.C. and 26 December in L.A.[44] This successful run prompted IFC Films to show this version in nine additional markets on 16 January. Che will be shown in its entirety, commercial and trailer free with an intermission and limited edition program book at every screening.[45] Soderbergh has said that the film's roadshow version will not be released on DVD but released in two parts with the animated map that opens the roadshow's second half missing from Part II, as well as the overture and intermission music.[46]

On 4 December 2008, Che premiered at Miami Beach's Byron Carlyle Theatre, as part of the Art Basel Festival. Taking place only a few miles from Little Havana, which is home to the United States' largest Cuban American community, the invitation-only screening was met with angry demonstrators.[64] The organization Vigilia Mambisa, led by Miguel Saavedra, amassed an estimated 100 demonstrators to decry what they believed would be a favorable depiction of Guevara. Saavedra told reporters from the El Nuevo Herald that "you cannot offend the sensitivities of the people", while describing the film as "a disgrace".[65] A supporter of the demonstration, Miami Beach's mayor Matti Herrera Bower, lamented that the film was shown, while declaring "we must not allow dissemination of this movie".[65] When asked days later about the incident, Del Toro remarked that the ability to speak out was "part of what makes America great" while adding "I find it a little weird that they were protesting without having seen the film, but that's another matter".[66] For his part, Soderbergh later stated that "you have to separate the Cuban nationalist lobby that is centered in Miami from the rest of the country".[67]

On 7 December 2008, Che premiered at Havana's 5,000+ person Karl Marx Theater as part of the Latin American Film Festival.[68] Benicio Del Toro, who was in attendance, referred to the film as "Cuban history", while remarking that "there's an audience in there ... that could be the most knowledgeable critics of the historical accuracy of the film".[68] The official state paper Granma gave Del Toro a glowing review, professing that he "personifies Che" in both his physical appearance and his "masterly interpretation".[69] After unveiling Che in Havana's Yara Cinema, Del Toro was treated to a 10-minute standing ovation from the 2,000+ strong audience, many of whom were involved in the revolution.[70]

Part One has a 68% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 142 reviews, and an average rating of 6.5/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Though lengthy and at times plodding, Soderbergh's vision and Benicio Del Toro's understated performance ensure that Che always fascinates."[75] Meanwhile, Part Two has a 78% rating, based on 53 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The website's critical consensus states, "The second part of Soderbergh's biopic is a dark, hypnotic and sometimes frustrating portrait of a warrior in decline, with a terrific central performance from Del Toro.".[76] On Metacritic, the film has a collective weighted average score of 64 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[77] 041b061a72


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