On DVD: Che (Criterion Collection)

Few twentieth century figures have been so strangely abstracted from the reality of their times as Ernesto "Che" Guevara. From a young age (I was born 9 years after his execution), I have only known his name and image. The use of Che's visage on posters and t-shirts, and the sloganification of his nickname, say much about the ability of capitalism to use even its supposed enemies for profit - while saying nothing at all about the man. Attempts at film biographies have mostly failed, not counting the recent and much-lauded The Motorcycle Diaries, directed by Walter Salles. Steven Soderbergh's four-and-a-half-hour two-part Spanish-language epic Che is a patient, detailed treatment of two key segments of Che's life, and while it doesn't fully succeed as a revelation of his character, the film does reveal and enliven history with an expert's storytelling technique.

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