The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
|Universal || R - 128 minutes - $19.98 || February 15, 2005|
|Reviewer: Chris Gonzalez || Posted On: 2005-02-13|
Writer(s): Ernesto 'Che' Guevara (book), Alberto Granado (book), Jose Rivera (screenplay)
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mercedes Morán, Jean Pierre Noher
Theatrical Release Date: September 24, 2004
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Having been born and raised in the anti-Castro community of Miami, Fl. I’ve always been told what a bastard Fidel Castro and Che Guevarra were. The feelings towards this little movie in my city were mixed: you had the people who saw and loved it, and you had the others who just refused to see it from the get go. They saw the trailer showing quotes proclaiming Guevarra and that was an immediate turn off, to say the least. For those who don’t know the film is an adaptation of the memoirs of Ernesto Guevarra, a young man who goes on a life changing road trip with his best friend. He then becomes a revolutionary and was the right hand man to Fidel Castro.
As for the film itself, it is a great one. Fantastic acting, score, cinematography, messages, themes, and just a great road trip film at its core. Showing the character of Guevarra as a great human being in worthy of praise in his youth isn’t wrong; it fits the story just fine and there’s no qualms about it. But, ignoring the fact that this man grew up to be the puppet of a dictator and a murderer is just slightly irresponsible of the filmmakers, but doesn’t take away from the film in any regard. It’s just comparable to showing Hitler in his youth as a great man, which is fine, but what he does become is important.
Gael Garcia Bernal plays the title role, and once again delivers a knockout performance. He truly carries most of the film on his shoulders, with Rodrigo de la Serna as his comedic partner adding any fun there is to be had. The film is an excellently told story about friendship, loyalty, repression, and truth. Don’t miss one of the most moving and unseen films of last year.
Every special feature on this disc has almost nothing to do with the production of the film, and centers almost entirely on the story behind the man and how the actors of filmmakers feel about it.
First off there are 8 minutes worth of deleted scenes that just reiterate scenes we’ve seen before, and while they’re nice to provide more depth the movie works fine without them.
Next is a 3 minute conversation with Guevarra’s real life friend, Alberto Granado. He talks about what really happened, introduces us to members of his family and shows you where he is today. Pictures of the real events are also thrown in. Not the most in depth featurette but a nice idea.
The 20 minute making-of segment is pretty standard: interviews with the director and actors. There’s a nice appearance by Robert Redford and Guevarra’s daughter. It doesn’t focus on the production of the film but stays on how the story and message translated to the screen.
Two features are almost identical: “Take One” with Bernal, and A Moment with Bernal. They both aired on different Spanish television channels and run 2 or 3 minutes. They show clips, interview Bernal who shares some superficial insights into the film and about his career. They’re over in the blink of an eye and just about as significant.
With such a simple and outstanding score a 3 minute interview with composer Gustavo Santaolalla is very nice to have. He talks about the score in general and gives insight on how he composed a couple specific scenes. Runs a little short but worthwhile.
Rounding out the disc are the standard Cast and Crew bios. Nothing much to reveal here.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The film, presented in 1:85 looks brilliant. Any grain or faults are intentional in the picture. It’s a very grey looking film with the exception of some very lush landscapes and everything comes across very nicely. This is no surprise since it is a Focus/Universal disc which has a pretty decent history.
Being a mostly quiet movie, the audio is fitting, but not reference quality. There is some nice ambience and the score comes across very well.
Overall there’s a lot left to be desired when it comes to the features; it’s a very superficial disc about such an important and relevant subject. The segments present all run too short and don’t reveal as much as we’d like to see. But I wouldn’t let the lack of features discourage you from buying this disc. The only reason you should buy it is for the excellent film; fantastic picture and good audio are just a plus.