Thursday, 17 September 2009

[239] Chevolution (2008) Review

This is one of my favourite films of the year, easily. A totally different, yet utterly mesmerising approach to Che Guevara, especially in relation to films like Steven Soderbergh's Che project (the two parts of which I reviewed here and here).

Chevolution is a remarkable documentary, fully polished, accessible and absolutely assured in its execution. It is a Che film with a difference that, appearing after pictures like The Motorcycle Diaries and the two installments of Steven Soderbergh's Che, significantly manages to circumnavigate the well-trodden aspects of his biography, history and politics - instead focusing on the story of a single image, the famous photograph, and eventual poster, Guerrillero Heroico.

Starting off as a dual narrative, that of the photographer and the revolutionary, Chevolution speeds through a heavily condensed version of Che's life, and the Cuban revolution, as well as the life of Alberto Korda, the man who, after a long period of Batista-era excess and fashion photography, became a key photojournalist in the early years of the Republic - eventually snapping the famous image at a memorial service in Havana. While most of this has been covered before, it is displayed well, through interviews with a handful of witnesses, colleagues and experts, like Korda's daughter, Che expert Jon Lee Anderson and, most entertainingly, contemporary Cuban photographers, whose anecdotes and insight give this slight retreading an edge and distinction over the more filmic depictions - such as the tidbit that Korda was required to harvest sugar cane for a week before being allowed to photograph Che.

It is also crucial groundwork, as the film soon casts its net wide, taking in the photograph's own history and cultural significance...

Read the full article here.

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