Che

With the Festival de Cannes kicking off later this week, a bunch of new production photos have surfaced. First up is Steven Soderbergh‘s Che, a pair of films (The Argentine and Guerrilla) starring Benicio Del Toro as Argentine revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara de la Serna.

Che

The running time for the two films combined is a whopping 268 minutes, or four and a half hours long. Let’s take a look at the newly released official plot synopsis:

PART ONE
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.

PART TWO
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.

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After college, I kicked it around downtown Miami for a bit. While the city never became the new hipster mecca to replace Brooklyn as the, uh, booming condo industry promised, I did become aware that Fidel Castro has died approximately 1,000 times and that the locals like to celebrate each time like it’s the last time. I’m not sure any man’s exaggerated death has ever caused so much happy yelling and dancing in the streets. I parlay my awe because a few interesting images of Castro from Steven Soderbergh‘s ambitious pair of 2008 films about Che Guevara, The Argentine and Guerilla, have floated over to Ain’t It Cool.

Castro is being played by Mexican actor Demian Bichir, whose prior work I’m not familiar with. He replaced the great Javier Bardem after the project was delayed and definitely looks the part of a determined, intelligent revolutionary who would forever alter history from the depths of the jungle. Che is being played in both films by Benecio Del Toro, in what is clearly being mounted as a powerhouse performance. There’s the chance that by the time these films roll around, Castro will be no more, as he’s issued uncharacteristic messages of late about the transition of power in Cuba. But as a fan of Hollywood, his showbiz pals include Jack Nicholson and Oliver Stone, I’m sure he’s aware of the $70 million project and can get a private screening upon request.

With 2008 a landmark year for American politics and a world in turmoil amid revolutions, upheavals and violence, we can look forward to some serious heavy-lifting political biopics, with Soderbergh and Spielberg leading the charge. So, be sure to have a monocle, a brandy snifter and a good cigar on standby this year like you’re Colonel Mustard or something.

 

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