The Motorcycle Diaries

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Rating: R

Starring:
Gael García Bernal as Ernesto Guevara de la Serna
Rodrigo De la Serna as Alberto Granado
Mercedes Morán as Celia de la Serna
Jean Pierre Noher as Ernesto Guevara Lynch
Lucas Oro as Roberto Guevara
Marina Glezer as Celita Guevara
Sofia Bertolotto as Ana María Guevara
Ricardo Díaz Mourelle as Uncle Jorge
Sergio Boris as Young Traveler
Daniel Cargieman as Young Traveler
Diego Giorzi as Rodolfo
Facundo Espinosa as Tomás Granado

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes

A Moment with Alberto Ganado

Making of The Motorcycle Diaries

A Moment with Gael Garcia Bernal

“Toma Uno” (“Take One”) with Gael Garcia Bernal

Music of the Road: An Interview with Composer Gustavo Santaolalla

Cast and Filmmakers

Other Info:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Audio with English Subtitles
French Subtitles
Running Time: 2 Hours 7 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“Based on a true life story, The Motorcycle Diaries is an inspiring and thrilling adventure that traces the youthful origins of a revolutionary spirit. The film follows two daring friends, Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Gael García Bernal, Y Tu Mamá También) and Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna), who hop on the back of a beat-up motorcycle for a breathtaking and exciting road trip across Latin America. From executive producer Robert Redford and acclaimed director Walter Salles (Central Station) comes a life-changing journey that critics are hailing as “Magnificent!” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone).”

The Motorcycle Diaries is rated R for language

The Movie:
Having seen all the glowing reviews for The Motorcycle Diaries, I was eager to find out what all the fuss was about. Now that I have seen it on DVD, I can say that it is a beautiful film with an intriguing story, but it was over hyped quite a bit.

The Motorcycle Diaries follows the path of your typical road trip movie. A couple of characters embark on a journey and along the way see beautiful scenery, have various misadventures, meet interesting people, and end up experiencing a self-discovery. But a couple of things make The Motorcycle Diaries unique. First of all, it is set in South America. I can’t think of many road trip movies set in Latin America, but this one features all sorts of unique and beautiful scenery. From the Andes to the Amazon and from snow to deserts, the main characters see a lot. It is quite a remarkable backdrop for the story.

The other thing that makes The Motorcycle Diaries unique is that it tells of the early years of a man who will later become a revolutionary leader. As Ernesto “Che” Guevara travels through South America, he meets the common people, discovers his people’s rich history, and becomes sympathetic to the plight of the poor and the sick. It’s a real awakening for the character and you easily see how this trip transformed him from a carefree medical student to a crusader for the underdog. My only hesitation is that the movie tells you almost nothing about his later years other than that he was a Cuban revolutionary leader and that he was assassinated by the CIA. The story makes him seem saintly and heroic, but I’m not familiar enough with his later years to know if he’s a guy worth celebrating. (The bonus features don’t shed any more light about the man.)

The casting in the film is very good. Gael García Bernal is great as Ernesto Guevara de la Serna. He’s energetic, passionate, and adventurous. You totally believe that he falls in love with the South American land and its people. Rodrigo De la Serna is a perfect match for him as Alberto Granado. While Ernesto is emotional and sympathetic, Alberto is somewhat more worldy and carefree. The two make an interesting odd couple for this continental journey. I have to admit that it certainly sounds like fun to explore beautiful South America by motorcycle. I think every man has some love for getting out on the open road and this is an ultimate realization of that fantasy.

Along with the amazing South American scenery, there’s a nice taste of their music, too. It ends up being a unique soundtrack filled with folk music, tango, mambo, and more.

If you like traveling or road trip pictures, then I think The Motorcycle Diaries will appeal to you. While the movie didn’t seem as great to me as to other critics, it is a unique voyage of self discovery set against a beautiful South American backdrop.

The Extras:
There is a fair number of bonus features included here, but unfortunately none of them shed more light on who Che Guevara is for those who are unfamiliar with him. Here’s what you will find:

Deleted Scenes – There are a few deleted scenes included and they are all worth checking out. One shows Alberto and Che swiping food and wine from a group of rich folks at a car racing derby. Unfortunately, the wine they swipe is promptly stolen back by the poor servants, much to the amusement of Che. Another scene shows more interaction between Che and the lepers. They show him their appreciation for him treating them like humans. There are a couple of other scenes, but as you can see they help supplement the development of the character from the movie.

A Moment with Alberto Ganado – This is a brief interview with the real life Alberto Ganado who is still alive and well and living in Cuba. He reminisces about the real life journey he took with Che. He also talks about the movie and his life today. It’s very brief, but still an interesting footnote to the film.

Making of The Motorcycle Diaries – This is your standard “making of” documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew, behind the scenes footage, and other such goodies. They talk about the development of the script, shooting in South America, and other stuff. There are interviews with Che’s daughter, producer Robert Redford, and the real Alberto Ganado.

A Moment with Gael Garcia Bernal – This is a brief interview with Bernal conducted on an entertainment show from Telemundo. He talks about how he got into acting, his famous parents, and how he came on board The Motorcycle Diaries.

“Toma Uno” (“Take One”) with Gael Garcia Bernal – This is another interview on a Spanish entertainment show from the “mun2″ television network. It’s more of the same from the previous interview.

Music of the Road: An Interview with Composer Gustavo Santaolalla – This feature discusses the unique sound of the music from the film.

The Bottom Line:
The Motorcycle Diaries isn’t quite as exciting as the hype would suggest, but it is still an interesting road trip picture set against the South American backdrop. It is also an interesting look at the early life of revolutionary leader Che Guevara and his voyage of self discovery.

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