Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Top 25 Movies of 2000s: 25: Motorcycle Diaries

Motorcycle Diaries is the Che Guevara Bio-Pic based on the Che Guevara’s personal diaries of the trip he took from his home in Argentina until throughout South America. Originally, the trip was planned to only take a few months. He would return and finish his final semester of Medical School and become a simple Argentina Doctor. Instead, his journey took him to Mexico where he befriended Fidel Castro. It is there that he joined the movement to invade and over throw the Cuban government.
Motorcycle Diaries mentions almost none of his political beliefs. Instead, it shows the events of his life and the viewer is free to interpret how these events dramatically influenced his life. In its simplest terms, Motorcycle Diaries is a coming of age story. On its most complex, it forces you to evaluate your own life. Here is someone who took a massive change in his life. He gave up a very safe, easy and prosperous life in order to do what he really felt was important. After traveling throughout South America he saw extreme poverty, disease, the influence of greedy corporations and the disparity between rich and poor.
The question that I came away with from the movie is how much does age play in life decisions. He stared on his trip in his 20s. Would he have given up what he gave up in life if he had been in his 30s or 40s? It also asks the question; do our values change as we age or are our psychological need for stability (emotional, psychological, societal and financial) overrides our sense of societal outrage?
The other element I find interesting is his meeting Fidel Castro. Obviously, he had communist beliefs and a sense of revolution prior to meeting Fidel, but if they had never met what would his world and to a large extent our global political system be like today?
What makes this movie great is the fact that it takes a simple story, two guys in their 20s on a motorcycle trip, and presents so many questions to the viewer. Like the movie itself, Motorcycle Diaries is not great exclusively for the journey we see, but the thoughts, beliefs and questions we have afterwards.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you on this one. Motorcycle Diaries appeals to me in that it works as a straight-up road-trip movie (complete with the always enjoyable "I messed with the wrong girl and now we have to get the hell out of this podunk town as fast as we can" vignette). It isn't weighed-down by the usual gravitas of a "bio-pic." Plus, the scenery is terrific, the girls are hot, and there's plenty of drinking, which I think are the elements of any great film.

    That it's Che on one of those motorbikes doesn't even feel important for much of the film. I suppose that's the trick; showing how this young man could have been any one of your friends, perhaps even yourself, at some stage of life. I think it's interesting that the film requires a knowledge of "what happened afterward" in order to grasp its complete significance. I like the questions you raise, and we should talk about those over a beer or three.