Director Steven Soderbergh brought one of the most anticipated movies to the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, his two part extravaganza about revolutionary Che Guevara, starring Benecio del Torro as Che. With both movies showing together and a small intermission in between, Soderbergh delivered a nearly 5-hour film experience.
Jeffrey Wells has been following this project closer than anyone on the intertubes and he was, quite frankly, blown away by the experience. In fact, the last dozen or so posts on his excellent Hollywood Elsewhere are devoted to Soderbergh’s Che. He’s rounding up all the reactions from across all the different bloggers and reporters that have seen the film. Some are calling it an amazing experience and others are decidedly on the other side of the fence. All in all, it seems like the reactions have been a mixed-bag.
His reaction: “The first half of Steven Soderbergh‘s 268-minute Che Guevara epic is, for me, incandescent — a piece of full-on, you-are-there realism about the making of the Cuban revolution that I found utterly believable. Not just “take it to the bank” gripping, but levitational — for someone like myself it’s a kind of perfect dream movie. It’s also politically vibrant and searing — tells the “Che truth,” doesn’t mince words, doesn’t give you any “movie moments” (and God bless it for that).
The second half of Che, also known as Guerilla, just got out about a half-hour ago, and equally delighted although it’s a different kind of film — tighter, darker (naturally, given the story). But I’ve been arguing with some colleagues who don’t like either film at all, or don’t think it’s commercial. Glenn Kenny and Kim Voynar feel as I do, but Anne Thompson is on the other side of the Grand Canyon. Peter Howell is in the enemy camp also.”
Head on over to find out all about the The Argentine and The Guerilla. Sounds like Soderbergh has crafted an experience worth watching. Reuters, not wanting to wear any bias on their sleeve says, “Early reaction to “Che” has been mixed, with reviews questioning its length and Soderbergh’s apparent determination to avoid heightening the drama through Hollywood conventions.
Two clips have popped up online and though they reveal little, they do give you a feel for the experience.
On November 26, 1956, Fidel Castro sails to Cuba with eighty rebels. One of those rebels is Ernesto “Che” Guevara, an Argentine doctor who shares a common goal with Fidel Castro – to overthrow the corrupt dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Che proves indispensable as a fighter, and quickly grasps the art of guerrilla warfare. As he throws himself into the struggle, Che is embraced by his comrades and the Cuban people. This film tracks Che?s rise in the Cuban Revolution, from doctor to commander to revolutionary hero.
After the Cuban Revolution, Che is at the height of his fame and power. Then he disappears, re-emerging incognito in Bolivia, where he organizes a small group of Cuban comrades and Bolivian recruits to start the great Latin American Revolution. The story of the Bolivian campaign is a tale of tenacity, sacrifice, idealism, and of guerrilla warfare that ultimately fails, bringing Che to his death. Through this story, we come to understand how Che remains a symbol of idealism and heroism that lives in the hearts of people around the world.