A jack of all trades, a never-dying symbol of liberty, a knight of the revolution, a Don Quixote of the Latin America, a fan of truth and justice, an idol of the Red Cuba, a doctor, a diplomat, a terrorist and a person the world will never stop talking about, Ernesto Che Guevara evokes in people’s minds diametrically opposite feelings and emotions. As it is mentioned at the beginning of the documentary: “A hero to some, a monster to others…He hoped to start a World War III” Guevara, being a whole bunch of people trying to be one person deserves a special attention and place in the history. Representing the true history and not concealing the negative features of Che Guevara documentary is perceived as a diary making the viewer live the life of the main hero. Guevara represented from different angles, both cruel and sacrificial, remains a hero for his loyalty and unwavering service to the idea of liberty.
The documentary narrated by John Lee Anderson, the author of “Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life” contains the most fairy-free and real facts about life and achievements of Ernesto Che Guevara. The film also pays much attention to the CIA operative Felix Rodriguez who participated directly Che’s execution. Moreover, the documentary tells the story of his life from the mouths of young American rebels who joined Che’s group.
Unlike other films that represent a clear pro-Guevara prejudice, this documentary tracks how war and politics influenced his ideas and beliefs. The film pays much attention to depicting the political situation in the country of that time, Fidel Castro’s overthrow of the pro-American government. Finally, it mentions the situation in post-revolutionary Cuba without recalling Guevara’s name.
The documentary can be considered successful while it makes every viewer think regardless of the personal preferences and feelings concerning the main figure. Ernesto Guevara is presented in the film as an opponent of the USSR, as well as the Cuban Communist Party. He is described as a dedicated humanist who devotes at least one day to volunteer and help with the peasantry. When it comes to militarily Che, he is depicted as a prudent and cruel leader of the revolution in Cuba.
Moreover, one more thing that makes a film successful is the fact that even the most controversial moments of Ernesto’s life are not neglected and concealed. The film represents the executions performed by Che in a very detailed and accurate manner. When he was appointed the head of the prison, he sentenced hundreds of people to death. Moreover, it is mentioned that he might himself took part in the execution of the sentenced (both guilty and innocent).
The documentary includes the notes from Che’s diary where he writes about his intentions, feelings, and ideas. Furthermore, he explains the reason why he hates the USA government system. When he travelled to South America he saw wealthy landowners who controlled everything while the majority of the population was poor, had no chance of change and no power to change the system. It explains his wish to release Cuba from U.S. and fight for its independence. Moreover, it explains his cruelty and rejection of USA system supporters.
When Ernesto Guevara travelled to Guatemala, he met a woman that changed his life, Hilda Gadea Acosta. She was not a woman he married to and lived a happy life, but a woman who introduced Ernesto to the man who played a significant role in forming and developing his ideas and way of life – Fidel Castro. Hilda introduced Ernesto to the members of the July, 26 movement, a participant of which Fidel was. At that time, Fidel Castro, sentenced to 15 years, had spent 2 years in the prison and set free.
After Fidel’s release, their friendship began to develop with extreme speed. Soon enough, he became a member of the movement and got his nickname “Che”. Being the only non-Cuban member, he was frequently using the Argentine shortened interjection “che”, meaning “Hey, you!” This habit became the main reason of appearing the nickname.
When Guevara entered the 26-July-movement group, he together with Fidel started inventing a plan on how to release Cuba from the US dependency. First of all, Fidel believed that on the way to independence, Cuba has to become economically independent from the USA. As a result, all economic relations with the USA were withheld. The USA, in its turn, decided to break all diplomatic relationships with Cuba. Moreover, the government of the USA headed by the President John Kennedy announced the trade embargo on all goods exported from Cuba.
The revolution against the authoritarian government ruled by Fulgencio Batista began in July 1953 and ended on 1 January 1959 when Guevara together with Fidel Castro replaced the government with their socialist state. The revolution was supported by Cubans of all classes while they were not satisfied with the corruption facilitated and supported by Batista. Although, they did not aim at considerable and radical changes of the economic and political systems of the country, they believed that the life conditions in the country headed by Castro will be improved.
Fidel Castro promised to conduct the election, but being seduced by the possible power he became the prime minister without conducting the elections. As a result, Cuba became a socialist country, where revolutionary Marxist-Leninist ideas and views prevailed and were praised while different views and ideas were penalized.
In 1959 with the first Agrarian Reform Law, Cuba encountered the nationalization of the land which was a part of Fidel’s revolutionary plan. After the revolution, Castro government seized all foreign private companies (mostly owned by USA individuals and corporation). Soon, the Cuban government nationalized the remaining private commerce.
Having understood that the Cuban government was trying to cut all ties with the U.S., CIA trained a counter-revolutionary army aiming to invade Cuba. The invasion got the name of the Bay of Pigs Invasion and was failed. The CIA intended to overturn the Marxist-Leninist government of Cuban prime minister. Under the command of Fidel Castro, the intended invasion launched in Guatemala was withheld with the help of Cuban army.
While Cuba was struggling against the USA for its independence, it was supported by the Soviet Union as they were connected by similar ideological and political beliefs. Such alliance brought the Soviet Union and the U.S. to the brink of war. Although, frightened by the perspective of the war, Khrushchev betrayed Cuban government and signed an alliance with the U.S. government.
Soon enough, the relationships between Fidel and Che spoilt. The last drop was the letter Fidel read publicly. Responding to the speculations about Che Guevara’s death, Fidel read a letter Che had written to him with a farewell words. Ernesto did not expect to hear the letter announced publically, especially by Castro. As a result, from best friends they turned into rivals and even enemies.
In order to remain alive, Guevara travelled to Bolivia where he intended to start an armed struggle. He created a group of the supporters of his beliefs and views and decided to fulfil a plan about a Socialist Latin America. One of the members of his group was Tania, a long-time supporter of the Revolution, former East-German spy, and a suspected KGB operative. She appeared to be the only link between Guerrillas and the outer world.
Trying to fulfil Guevara’s plan in Bolivia, half of Che’s group was caught and imprisoned while Che succeeded to escape They have spent more than 10 months in the jungles, hiding from the trained US army. Although, one of the members betrayed the whole group and told the army the exact way Che’s group was following. As a result, the majority of the group was killed (including the only woman Tania) while others were trapped in the mountains and forced to fight with the numerous army for their lives.
After 11 months of run, Che gave up and was caught. He was set in a small school house and guarded respectively. A day after his capture, he was sentenced to execution. A young man, Toran killed him. Before his death, Che cried that they can kill the person, but they can never kill the ideas. Soon enough the news about Che’s death reached Cuba. Although, Fidel did not believe Che was dead and asked the proof. In order to prove that Che was dead, his hands were sent to Fidel. The place of Che’s burial remained unknown until the 30th anniversary of his death.
To conclude, the documentary gives a true representation of Ernesto’s life including political beliefs, personal life, and evidence from the opponents and the defenders. While the question whether Che Guevara was a revolutionary who sacrificed his life fighting for his beliefs or a cruel, cold-blooded killer remains open, it can be surely claimed that he is a person who deserves to have a special place in the history of liberty formation and development. Although, it is obvious that Ernesto Che Guevara was not perfect, he fight for the equality between poor and rich and sacrificed his life struggling for justice and freedom.