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Dec 2, 2005

Motorcycle Diaries

"What do we leave behind when we cross each frontier? Each moment seems split in two; melancholy for what was left behind and the excitement of entering a new land" - Ernesto Che Guevera, Motorcycle Diaries - his memoirs. Thats what you feel after watching the movie, like you've crossed a new frontier.

Travel is an eyeopener - to the world and to your innerself. If Ernesto Che Guevera had not gone on his life changing motorcycle expedition across the length of South American continent, the world would have sold lesser tee shirts and coffee mugs, we'd not have got a charismatic revolutionary icon to represent the world's inner struggles with a loveable name - Che.

Directed by Walter Selles, the film is about this legendary journey undertaken by two impressionable young people who had dreams about changing the world to make it a better place. Yeah I know we all have/had such dreams(most of us are kind hearted people) but seldom do we act upon them. We - the ordinary beings who stop far short of Che Guevera are happy with our I-Pods, our brand new beemers and our annual subscription at the hippest gym to worry about the starving millions in thrid world. We do care for them sometimes, when we watch movie like the Motorcycle Diaries or Salaam Bombay. Then the pressures of life overtake us - we have to pay bills, raise families, think about the next promotion or like me - plain lounge online.

I respect Che Guevera despite the murders he committed later in his life, because he crossed the unconquerable threshold. I respect him for crossing over to the other side - for doing what he believed in, instead of contemplating or devising plans on alleviating human suffering and for being honest about his intentions. There is a line in the film where Ernesto wonders how the natives who practised skills like advanced urban planning, brain surgery and the like be conquered by Spaniards who were far less competent, he believes there is only one answer - the Spaniards had gunpowder. The very same idea forms the crux of Che's revolution, unlike Gandhi he believes that revolution or freedom of the downtrodden from the clutches of their powerful masters requires guns and ammo - there is no other way and he breaks free the conventional crutches of society to live his idea and principles.

The film charters the subtle transformation of a sheltered affluent college kid in to the revolutionary we now know as Che(played by Gael Garcia Bernal).Gael Garcia does a real good job(tries hard to shed the lover boy image I am accustomed to in his earlier films) so does Rodrigo de la Serna who plays Granado. I exhort you to take the journey thru' Andean chill, the barren Atacama and the jungles of Amazon with Ernesto Che Guevera and his jovial companion, Alberto Granado(it was an interview with Granado in NPR which led me to this movie, it was being shot at that time and yes Granado is still alive and well at 82). It is a journey of a boy becoming a man of the world accompanied by a beautiful sound track, the story of a life that made a real difference. Salut! dear Che!