Friday, March 24, 2006

The Motorcycle Diaries

"The plan: to travel 8 thousand kms in 4 months. The method: improvisation. The goal: to explore a continent that we had only known in books. The equipment: La poderosa (the mighty one), an aged, leaky '39 Norton 500. The pilot: Alberto Granado, 29 years old and bio-chemist, self proclaimed "wandering scientist". The pilot's dream: to finish the trip on his 30th birthday. The co-pilot: Me, Ernesto de la serna el fuser, 23 years old"

Thus starts "The Motorcycle Diaries"... a story of 1950's , about a journey of two friends around South America. As the caption says "this is not the tale of heroic feats, It's about two lives running parallel for a while, with common aspirations and similar dreams."

I had heard about this movie long before. Finally, it took two DVD's (the first one got stuck in the middle, so I have to go and buy another one), two days, and two screenings (you have to watch it without the sub-titles again) to complete this. And it was worth all that. Granado's and Ernesto's travel is captured so brilliantly. One travels for his ideology, to explore the raw face of South America... and the other with a desire to f*** in every country, and if possible every town, in South America!!.

All through the movie, there is this Spanish guitar which continuously plays in the background and then ofcourse, there is the language, Spanish... the most romantic, or should I call it the most sensual, of all the languages in the world. I tried to learn Spanish online once, but the only thing that I could understand was that here(like in Hindi) each and every object is either a male or female. And the male ones will start with an El and the female ones with a La, so we have El Nino and La Nina and La Liga (the Spanish football league). And this El and La is what probably makes it the most sensual... the language of the nerudas and the marquezs.

And the movie progresses along what Ernesto sees around him, the natives, the disparities, the struggles... and the thoughts he has for them, which he writes in his letters to his mother during the journey. Like the one after he says goodbye to his girlfriend,

"On the boat I heard the moist slap of bare feet
and foresaw faces dark with hunger.
My heart was a pendulam
between her and the street.
I don't know what strength broke me
free from her eyes, loose from her arms.
She remained clouded by tears
her anguish hidden by the rain"

and when they cross to Chile at the tip of the continent, on a boat shrouded with mist,
"Dear mom what do we leave behind
when we cross a frontier?
Each moment seems split into two
Melancholy of what is left behind and
the excitement of entering a new land"

"The mighty one" finally breaks down in Chile. So they will have to cover all of Chile in a Truck, scale the Andes on foot and finally cross the Amazon on a raft. The film's final scenes are the most poetic and poignant. They finally reach the leper colony in the middle of Amazon, and Ernesto will swim one night across the river, to celebrate his birthday with the people, who are waiting for their death in the segregated island. Finally they reach Guajira in Venezuela, the northern tip of the continent. Granado will stay here and work as a bio-chemist and Ernesto will fly back to Buenos Aires to complete his degree in medicine, promising each other that they will meet soon.

"Motorcycle Diaries" ends with the following lines...
"It took eight years for ernesto and alberto to meet again. In 1960, Granado was invited to live and work in Cuba. The invitation came from his old friend Fuser, now "Commandante" Ernesto Che Guevera. One of the most prominent and inspiring leaders of the Cuban revolution. Che went onto fight for his ideals in the Congo and Bolivia, where he was captured and with the support of the CIA, murdered in October,1967. Forever faithful to his friend Fuser, Granado remained in Cuba, where he founded the school of medicine of Santiago. He lives in Havana, with his wife children and grand children"

Ever wondered how it is possible to feel nostalgic for a world one never knew... watch "Motorcycle diaries'


Shankar said...

Yeah, it's an awesome movie. I liked it a lot.

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