One of the most enjoyable films of 2004, The Motorcycle Diaries portrays the six-month journey of a 20-year-old Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal) and his friend Alberto (Rodrigo De la Serna, in a stand-out performance).
Lacking in overt politics, the film does a fantastic job of capturing the conditions in Latin America that would transform Guevara from a middle-class doctor into a leader of the Cuban Revolution. Some critics have equated the film and its stunning scenery to a coffee-table book. This is not only misguided, it misses one of Salles’s most important themes—the development of a Latin American consciousness. Che and Alberto set out “to explore a continent [they’d] only read about,” and you can sense Salles hoping to do the same—to instill in his global audience a love for the place he calls home.