movie: The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

movie review:

The Motorcycle Diaries
Directed by Walter Salles

Two Argentinian friends, one a 29 year old biochemist and the other a 23 year old medical student go on a long planned tour of South America. The decrepit old bike of the title packs up by the time they reach Chile, after which they make the journey on foot and hitchhike across Chile and Peru.

The two very different personalities of the travelers come into play. The younger, Ernesto (Gael García Bernal), the strain of the second half of the journey showing plainly on his face, is moved and angered by the conditions of the poor, exploited Peruvian peasants. Granado (Rodrigo De la Serna), his biochemist friend, is roguish and more driven by comforts, booze and women.

Their common goals come to light when they stay at a leper’s colony in San Pablo, near the source of the Amazon, where they play football and shake hands with the lepers. Ernesto celebrates his 24th birthday there and makes a small, impassioned speech of his dream of a united America, to an audience of nuns, doctors and nurses, clearly uncomfortable with his obvious idealism. Irrevocably driven by his newfound ideas, Ernesto jumps into the river that separates the lepers from the healthy, in a bid to celebrate his birthday on the other side. He succeeds in crossing it despite his asthmatic condition, to the delight of the cheering onlookers.

It is easy to see this as a 'coming of age’ story but for the fact that a journey undertaken with the multitude of hardships faced by the two boys can have a sobering effect on the best of us. Ernesto records his thoughts in a journal, reflecting on his experiences every step of the way, choosing not to be cowed down by what he sees but to be strengthened by it.

Considering the film as a plain road trip movie would also be doing it injustice. The movie is based on the real life account of the Latin American revolutionary leader Ernesto ‘Che’* Guevara de la Serna (1928-1967) who spent a major part of his life at Fidel Castro’s side, planning and executing the Cuban peasant-based revolution. It is definitely worth the watch, especially when you’re aware of the history that goes with it.

(*The Che Guevara famous black and red picture with the beret, which became a worldwide icon at some point, was recently reinterpreted for Madonna’s American Life album cover. )

-rhea daniel


At 1:18 PM, Blogger Hitanshu said...

I respectfully disagree. Motorcycle diaries epitomises riding as an art. Often, what happens on Looooong rides, is a journey in itself, and the bike being the medium to nirvana :)

It *is* a road trip movie. Makes me want to ride out (which I will!), and expose myself to life, living, learning and loving in the process :)


Post a Comment

<< Home

goto top
Back Issues