The Motorcycle Diaries tells the story of an 8,000 mile trip by either motorcycle (hence the name of the film), raft, truck or foot from Argentina to Peru in the year of 1952. Friends Ernesto Guevara de la Serna and Alberto Granado take this journey to travel across the continent. It’s important to note that Ernesto eventually became “Che” Guevara, a man who was involved in the political world. According to wikipedia, “Che” is mostly referred to as a Fidel Castro type figure, which is interesting especially co…sidering Castro was his friend. “Che”, like Castro, claimed to fight for his people, yet never truly did much for them. But this is an extreme side-note as the film focuses on when “Che” was younger.
The two friends climb on their trusty motorcycle and speed away to a world full of adventure and excitement. Sounds like a type of action film right? Well, The Motorcycle Diaries is far from an action film. The film is more an adventure type film that looks very deep into the lives of these two during this time period. Guevara is a medical student while Alberto is a biochemist. Both have a few years left in their education path. During their journey, they make many stops, some of which have deep meaning (One key moment is explained later). The first stop on their adventure is to visit Guevara’s girlfriend whose father disapproves of Guevara. Chichina, Guevara’s girlfriend, loves him so dearly that she’ll apparently wait for him to finish.
One of the stronger points of the film are the gorgeous visuals. Director Walter Salles takes us through lush scenery including forests, plains, deserts, lakes, rivers, and mountains. All these places look breathtaking on screen. While visiting all of these grand places, Guevara and Alberto meet a handful of strangers, some of which they con despite Guevara wanting to be honest with these people as their simply human. Don’t get me wrong though, the two friends are not complete horrid people, but Guevara definitely changes as we learn at the end. “I think of things in different ways. Something has changed inside of me” Guevara tells his friend in one scene.
While the film is mostly a positive, I did have one problem with the film. We learn very early on that Guevara and Alberto are close friends who have been friends for quite some time. But that seems to be all we ever learn about them. Maybe this is not a negative, but I’m the type of person who wants to see and feel some type of connection to the characters that are in front of me. And for such good friends, I can’t really think of many scenes were the two tend to click how Luke and Han click or how Bonnie and Clyde click. Maybe I’m looking too deeply into this though.
As a whole, The Motorcycle Diaries is an interesting film in a manner mainly because of Salles direction. Take one scene where the two friends are traveling down a road. The camera slows down in front of a few beggars. The scene turns almost black and white to make us sympathize with these beggars so that their sadness and pain will be engrained into our memory when we finish the film. That is truly effective directing on Salles part. The film holds many deep messages like this that make the film more than a visual film.
The Motorcycle Diaries is presented in an anamorphic Widescreen Aspect Ratio of 1:85:1. The transfer is nearly excellent. Had it not been for a few scenes where the colors seemed to literally wash off the screen, this would be getting a full rating. The quality is that good.
We’re given the film’s original Spanish language track with English Subtitles in a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound Audio Track. The audio was very well positioned with the bass and treble all seeming to complement each other. Dialogue, despite being in a foreign tongue for me, was pretty easy to understand thanks to the subtitles. I’m just thankful that there is no dubbed English version because dubbed versions of ANY film almost never capture the true passion of the film.
Despite this being a one-disc set, we’re given quite a nice array of features here.
- Deleted Scenes: Here we get a few deleted scenes from the film. Unlike most deleted scenes, these scenes would have been nice in the final version since they add a bit more detail into the story.
- A Moment with Alberto Granado: Here we get an interview with the character upon which the film is based on. Granado mostly speaks on his real life travels with best friend Ernesto.
- The Making of The Motorcycle Diaries: Here we get a host of various interviews with cast and crew. We mostly get to hear about the creation from concept to final product.
- A Moment with Gael Garcia Bernal: Here we get an interview with Gael Garcia Bernal as seen on the Spanish-language network Telmundo.
- ”Toma Uno” with Gael Garcia Bernal: Out of the two features with this man, this feature is the best simply because Gael gives us super detail about the philosophy of his career as an actor.
- Music of the Road: An Interview with Composer Gustavo Santaolalla: As some of you may know, this film was honored with the Academy Award in 2004 for Best Original Song. Here Santolalla comments on the production of his music and what the film’s music meant to him.
Despite having a few personal problems with the film, The Motorcycle Diaries is still a fine film mostly because of the direction by Salles. The DVD boasts near-reference picture quality, fine audio and a nice handful of features. The film comes off with at least a rental as the film holds a visually breathtaking series of images.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes
- A Moment with Alberto Granado
- The Making of The Motorcycle Diaries
- A Moment with Gael Garcia Bernal
- “Toma Uno” with Gael Garica Bernal
- Music of the Road: An Interview with Composter Gustavo Santaolalla