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The Motorcycle Diaries
an article by Lindsay Mathews

I really recommend you go see The Motorcycle Diaries. It's a classical road movie, and it carries a great message with good character development, beautiful scenery and a feeling that you are looking into the soul of America. No, I don't mean America, the United States of America, but America as a continent that existed before Columbus.

One of the high points, in more ways than one, is when Ernesto and Alberto visit the ruins of the ancient Incan capital, Machu Picchu, perched at the top of the Andes mountains. For the two young men from Argentina, their trip is a voyage of discovery of their continent and its people. In the Peruvian city of Cuzco, before they go up into the mountains, a young boy descended from the Incas points to the beautifully fitted stone walls bordering the narrow old city street and says they were laid by his ancestors. Then he points to another wall of smaller, non-fitting stones and says they were laid by the Spaniards who were not capable of building such a beautiful wall.

Ernesto and Alberto, handsome young men in their 20's, woo the beautiful girls of Argentina, Chile and Peru, but they are also touched by the suffering of the dispossessed that they encounter and whose faces haunt the film. At a leper colony on the Amazon in Peru, they serve the sick with a devotion and empathy that changes them as much as those they serve. And it changes us, the audience, as well, to the point that we are ready for Ernesto's toast to a "United America" with justice for all.

And we are ready to accept that Ernesto will become the Che Guevara who fights alongside of Fidel Castro and ends up dying in Bolivia at the hands of the CIA. And to applaud when we meet the real Alberto in the end who ended up founding a hospital for the revolution in Cuba.

I think it is no accident that this film was made by a Brazilian director, when you think about the great renaissance in democracy that is going on in Brazil today.


Question(s) related to this article:

A Brazilian movie about Che Guevara, Can it be a commercial success?

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Latest reader comment:

Do you know how commercial the Motorcycle Diaries have been, at this point? Also, do you know if Che visited Brazil, and whether Lula was inspired by him?

This report was posted on October 21, 2004.