Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Che Guevara and Barack Obama...

¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

Yesterday, I saw the 'controversial new film' "Che: El Argentino" by Steven Soderbergh. It was a good, albeit slightly long film, with Benicio del Toro as the Marxist Rebel Ernesto "Che" Guevara. It is beautifully shot, with wonderful views of the harsh but magnificent Cuban landscape, and the colourful cities filled with the sound of ricocheting bullets, compared somewhat cynically with the sterile black-and-white scenes of New York and the UN building. The film is definitely pro-Che, depicting him as a just, emotionally moderate rebel filled with integrity and love for his cause. He dispenses harsh justice (firing squad) to those who severely break the rebels' rigid discipline, but even that is done with an amount of compassion. And the guys being shot did rape and murder a teenage girl... He is also depicted as an unwavering doctor and teacher, emphasising the necessity of literacy. His humanity comes from his main weakness, his debilitating asthma attacks, which often leave him wheezing despite trying to hide from Baptista's soldiers. This very positive presentation of Guevara is somewhat inevitable since the film is based on his own memoirs, but does somewhat lend support to the now effectively moribund Communist cause.

However, a criticism of the film that I've read elsewhere, and one that I would agree with, is that in such a sweeping film, moving from Mexico, where Castro and Guevara plot the revolution over dinner, to Cuba, to New York, and back again, several times, is that the humanity of those involved is somewhat forgotten. We see rebels, soldiers and civilians being shot, burnt, and blown up, but we hardly feel any empathy with them. Death seems coldy inevitable in the course (or cause) of the revolution. I am, however, looking forward to part two.

Poor Barack Obama

Am I the only person to feel sorry for Barack Obama? Why should I feel sorry for the person who is now the first Afro-American US President, the most powerful man in the world and who has already made history? Because, it seems, the entire world is resting its often mutually exclusive hopes on his shoulders. Outside the US, it seems everyone is glad to see Bush go, and it isn't difficult to see why: bloody conflits in Afghanistan and Iraq, his resolute obstinance to any environmental causes, the economic crisis, his own lack of intelligence, the list goes on. Because of this, the majority of people around the world (70% according to a BBC poll) are glad to see him, and the Republican party, out of power. But more than this, the world is hoping Obama to change the world, to lead us all out of economic ruin, to save the Gaza strip, end the War on Terror and stop global warming, and he's going to fail, unequivocally. He's almost bound, in comparison to the last eight years, to make a much more positive impact on the world. But no-one can individually save to world from all its problems. And I think that is what a lot of people are expecting Obama to do.


  1. I think that Obama only has himself to blame. If he promises these things I don't think you can't criticise people for resting their hopes on his shoulder. Admitted, though, it is a tough job, and its exiting to see what happens. Hopefully it isn't a missed opportunity.

  2. But he hasn't promised all these things. He hasn't said anything about Israel-Palestine, only made vague hints about Iraq, and so on.