It’s impossible to not have a melodramatic reaction to Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries). It left me awake and thinking. Both states are dangerous to an otherwise idle existence.
I first stumbled on Che Guevara when I was in school, and found a copy of The Motorcycle Diaries in the second-hand book store on the pavement. It was like revealing romance to a lovesick puppy. Love for the outside world to fill the vacuum within.
It was a little later, that I *discovered* more about Guevara. The Cuban connection, the blind passion, the outrage and the final fall. Another Robin Hood biting the dust. I am a hardcore capitalist, and I have never understood why anyone could be so blinded by Communist ideal, and yet, I understand idealism and how consuming it can be. Idealism is a trait one picks up in early years, and holds on to. Because the only truth worth its salt is the one ridden with ambiguity.
The Motorcycle Diaries isn’t about epousing a political ism. It is the love that grows for one’s world. The sudden discovery of identity and one’s almost tangible sense of attachment to people. The overwhelming feeling of being so connected to others, even strangers, that makes us weep for their misfortunes.
Guevara and Granado, were obviously sensitive people, but a roadtrip though South America puts their sensitivity into perspective.
Che, before he became a hard-liner. Ernesto Guevara, before he became the Guerilla warlord. The movie starts on almost a comic note, the two of them being tossed around by that beautiful cranky moody bike. (A lovely Norton named La Poderosa, or the Mighty One). And then you see the innocence of a man who is now only an easy T-shirt logo to use.
The people they meet. Their faces morphed into one another, connected by the poverty and indifference of the world towards them. The deep need to be proud of a shared ancestory, and a heritage that was destroyed by the invaders whose language they speak now. Truth is, Che could have become anything after this roadtrip. A communist party member, a cynic, an alcoholic, or even indifferent. And perhaps that is what one would experience while watching the movie. What would you become at the end of a road trip? Older, wiser, angrier or sleepier?
The movie is not based on a story. It is an excerpt from the amazing journey undertaken. And where it ends, is where Che Guevara takes over.
This isn’t a tale of derring-do, nor is it merely some kind of cynical account; it isn’t meant to be at least. It’s a chunk of two lives running parallel for a while, with common aspirations and similar dreams.
– Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries.
It brought back so many of my own roadtrips, that a mental album is haunting me ever since.