08 December 2005

Motorcycle Diaries!- Movie Review

“Going on a journey with a map requires following directions - going on a journey without one requires following your heart.” - Tom Krause

There is a moment in everyone’s life where you know, some part of your self has changed irrevocably. For some, it is sudden, like the loss of a family member. For some, it is a slow, mutating process inside you, like that of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, riding on a beat-up Motorcycle with his friend, Alberto Granado,on a 13,250km road-trip across Latin America.

The movie starts off in an unpretentious manner where Alberto, a biochemist by profession, explains his life-long ambition of going on his motorcycle (“The Mighty One”) across Latin America before he turns 30 in six months. Ernesto, his best friend, 23, accompanies him. You can feel the excitement of a road-trip across the continent and wish you were sitting at the back of that Bike as the Director, Walter Salles, takes you through some amazing, empty road, wide-open field shots with blue sky hovering over the riders. You are transported to the muddy roads of Argentina, green fields in Chile, Mountains of Peru including an amazing view of Machi Pichu and the backwaters of Colombia splintered with changing sceneries and emotions of a young man.

There is a great cinematic effect on movies that don’t try to be cinematic because you can feel it’s real and authentic. Not for a moment you doubt the audacity of the characters or the situations because of the way the characters speak, act and the way the situations transpire in front of your eyes. There are no trick shots, special effects or torturous villains. It’s a pure and simple slice of life story, drawing you into the plight of two travelers with nothing but hope, love, anguish and, ofcourse, no food and money.

The story moves from funny trip mishaps in Argentina to free-spirited adventures in Chile to angst at the plight of workers in Peru to sadness of Leprosy patients in Colombia. Very rarely, you find a movie that captures the essence of the purpose of road trip. This one gets it without compromising the length of scenes, without over-dramatizing the plight of poor and leprosy people and above all without any lengthy dialogues which is very important for a subtitled movie. The pacing could have been a little fast but it might have compromised on the essence. Rodrigo De La Serna (Alberto) gives the most natural, glib-talking funny yet loyal buddy performance while Gael GarcBernal (‘Che’) looks, feels and acts honestly without over-doing it.

The movie reminded me of the train trip sequences in “Gandhi” and how it changed him to understand the real India. ’Che’ went on to become a great revolutionary leader as part of Cuban Revolution and wrote the book “Guerilla Warfare”.

A must-see movie that leaves you with an experience of a satisfying journey!

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