At Crooks and Liars, Mark Groubert writes a C&L Movie Review: Che by Steven Soderbergh,
Slated to be released to theatres in January as two separate films, the revolution will indeed be televised. Soderbergh has also made a pay-TV deal to show Che to Americans on demand in their living rooms. How fitting.
Suits me fine. Unlike the Cubans in the island prison, who thanks to Che and Fidel have no choice in what they can watch on TV or read in newspapers, we live in a free country, and if you want to waste your time and money watching this “masterpiece”, by all means, you can.
I’ll bet that Benicio will get an Oscar, too (he already won Best Actor at Cannes), even when, as you can see from the preview, he played Che with a Cuban/Caribbean accent instead of Che’s characteristic Argentinian accent, which is the reason why he was nicknamed Che in the first place.
Groubert sat through the entire 4 ½ hours propaganda piece and came back quoting Che at the start of his review,
Silence is argument carried out by other means.
A telling quote, indeed.
Nowhere in the review, and I asume in the film, is there a mention of the 216 people that Che Guevara himself killed between 1957 and 1959 in Cuba that The Cuba Archive has documented.
Guevara might have been enamored of his own death, but he was much more enamored of other people’s deaths. In April 1967, speaking from experience, he summed up his homicidal idea of justice in his “Message to the Tricontinental”: “hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine.” His earlier writings are also peppered with this rhetorical and ideological violence. Although his former girlfriend Chichina Ferreyra doubts that the original version of the diaries of his motorcycle trip contains the observation that “I feel my nostrils dilate savoring the acrid smell of gunpowder and blood of the enemy,” Guevara did share with Granado at that very young age this exclamation: “Revolution without firing a shot? You’re crazy.” At other times the young bohemian seemed unable to distinguish between the levity of death as a spectacle and the tragedy of a revolution’s victims. In a letter to his mother in 1954, written in Guatemala, where he witnessed the overthrow of the revolutionary government of Jacobo Arbenz, he wrote: “It was all a lot of fun, what with the bombs, speeches, and other distractions to break the monotony I was living in.”
Guevara’s disposition when he traveled with Castro from Mexico to Cuba aboard the Granma is captured in a phrase in a letter to his wife that he penned on January 28, 1957, not long after disembarking, which was published in her book Ernesto: A Memoir of Che Guevara in Sierra Maestra: “Here in the Cuban jungle, alive and bloodthirsty.” This mentality had been reinforced by his conviction that Arbenz had lost power because he had failed to execute his potential enemies. An earlier letter to his former girlfriend Tita Infante had observed that “if there had been some executions, the government would have maintained the capacity to return the blows.” It is hardly a surprise that during the armed struggle against Batista, and then after the triumphant entry into Havana, Guevara murdered or oversaw the executions in summary trials of scores of people—proven enemies, suspected enemies, and those who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In January 1957, as his diary from the Sierra Maestra indicates, Guevara shot Eutimio Guerra because he suspected him of passing on information: “I ended the problem with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain…. His belongings were now mine.” Later he shot Aristidio, a peasant who expressed the desire to leave whenever the rebels moved on. While he wondered whether this particular victim “was really guilty enough to deserve death,” he had no qualms about ordering the death of Echevarría, a brother of one of his comrades, because of unspecified crimes: “He had to pay the price.” At other times he would simulate executions without carrying them out, as a method of psychological torture.
Silence also, here in the US – the NYT never did get around to reviewing Carlos Eire‘s magnificent memoir, Waiting for Snow in Havana because of its truthful portrayal of Che’s and Fidel’s ruinous revolution. I believe this is the only book to win the National Book Award that the NYT Book Review has never reviewed.
Silence is argument carried out by other means, indeed.
Prior posts on Soderbergh’s tribute to Che, the murderous SOB, here