Hit him with your best shot
Kate Marie links to this review over at newcriterion: The real Che by by Anthony Daniels.
The latest and propagandistically most powerful product of the Guevara cult is a film of Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries by the Brazilian director Walter Salles. It relies for its effect upon the fact that audiences will all know a minimum about Guevara: for example, that he was a social revolutionary who died in the jungles of Bolivia, and never made a penny for himself. But they will otherwise know little of his actual opinions or actions, and will not have read his tedious and inflexibly dogmatic speeches and writings. It is as if someone were to make a film about Adolf Hitler by portraying him as a vegetarian who loved animals and was against unemployment. This would be true, but again would be rather beside the point.
In the film, the two young men set out from Buenos Aires and are soon in the vast, empty open spaces of Argentina. We feel their sense of absolute freedom, the wind in their hair is the wind in our hair, and the cares of the big city are behind both them and us. Of course, before they started out, they had had to get visas to cross borders. Guevara wrote in his diary: “So began the monotonous business of chasing visas, certificates and documents, that is to say, of overcoming the many hurdles modern nations erect in the paths of would-be travellers.” You wouldn’t altogether guess from this, or from the film, that Guevara was soon to advocate a political and economic system that would make such journeys as his completely impossible for anyone who came after him, or that the central control he advocated over each and every individual would of necessity keep them within a very tiny radius. In this, Guevara was absolutely typical of the messianic bourgeois, whether of reformist or revolutionary stripe: he wants to make sure that no one ever again lives as well as he has lived. Inside every rebel, there’s a tyrant trying to get out.