Chez Che

Soderbergh brings his Guevara epic to Miami; angry hysteria ensues.

NT: Why are Americans still so fascinated with this guy? Why do you see so many kids wearing his face on their T-shirts?

Soderbergh: I think it's because, whatever they think about him politically, he's not a sell-out. This is a guy who walked the walk. Whenever I get into these arguments with people about Che, they talk about La Cabaña (when Che led post-revolution executions of hundreds of Batista supporters). I say, 'Well yeah, he did that stuff.' And he died the way he died because he's the real deal. He went back into the jungle, walked away from his family, and tried to do it again and was executed without a trial in a room as big as this one. So you may hate him, but you can't deny this guy was consistent and knew that an armed revolution means killing people and means you can be killed. And he was fine with that. He was down with that.

But that question is a big part of the reason I got involved. I didn't know much more than the T-shirt, frankly, when Benicio and Laura came to me. I've seen the image and I know it has meaning for people. But why? What did he do that should generate this much merchandising? That's the really crazy part, that this icon of Marxism and armed revolution is like one of the most successful commercial brands on the planet. He'd think it was insane.

Benicio Del Toro as Che Guevara
Benicio Del Toro as Che Guevara


Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Written by Peter Buchman and Benjamin A. Van Der Veen, based on Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War and The Bolivian Diary by Ernesto Che Guevara. Starring Benicio Del Toro, Joachim De Almeida, Jordi Mollà, Gastón Pauls, Lou Diamond Phillips, Franka Potente, Victor Rasuk, Catalina Sandino Moreno, and Rodrigo Santoro.

Insane is a word many people threw around at the anti-Che protest outside the Byron Carlyle.

"It's an insult to our community that a film like this would premiere here," said Abilio Leon, a 65-year-old from Hialeah. "The Jewish community would never allow any kind of film about Hitler like this to play here. It's the same for us."

He looked at the throngs of protesters and the well-dressed crowd milling inside the theater and waved his sign a little harder.

"We'd rather just forget about the guy."

Coming Soon

Che, a four-hour epic about revolutionary Che Guevara, is split into two-hour halves. The first, The Argentine, follows Che's role in the Cuban Revolution. The second, Guerrilla, covers his failed attempt to lead a similar coup in Bolivia. The film is scheduled to open this week in New York and Los Angeles, and should reach Miami theaters in January.

"You may hate him, but you can't deny this guy knew that an armed revoluion means killing people and means you can be killed."

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