Why “Che” tanked and other stories


 

While Steven Soderbergh was making Che, the stories leaking out about the on-set goings on made it sound like the poor fellow had met his Don Quixote Apocalypse Now Medellin. In an interview with the Guardian, he more or less admits it was a disaster from the first day:

“You know, for a year after we finished shooting I would still wake up in the morning thinking, ‘Thank God I’m not shooting that film.'”

Does he wish he hadn’t done it?

“Yeah.”

The sad part is, that Soderbergh himself doesn’t really seem to know why he made the film in the first place – he appears to have been somewhat bullied into it by Benicio del Toro. And in an interview he gave with the Globe and Mail when the film was first released, he claimed that he was “agnostic” on Che’s politics, but that he was “just compelled by the fact that he twice gave up everything and put his ass on the line for someone else’s benefit.” Which is a strange reason to make a film about such a controversial figure, to say the least.

Anyway, the interview goes on and gets weirder. Soderbergh blames piracy for the film’s poor showing, and says that he only has a few films left in him, one of which is a biopic of Liberace starring…. Michael Douglas.

I’m not convinced the writer wasn’t being punk’d.

Anyway, did anyone here actually see Che? I tried to go three times, felt sort of obliged to see it. But ultimately, life is just too short.


 
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Why “Che” tanked and other stories

  1. No, but I did see the Rutles last show at Che Stadium…

    (do I get any points for a super-obscure reference?)

  2. Yes, I have seen both films and they are quite wonderful. Certainly the best work Steven Soderbergh has ever done (both direction and photography) and, of course, Benicio del Toro gives a superb performance – he IS CHE. Well worth watching.

    • That is an awesome movie; it's also Terence Stamp's best movie.

  3. "Anyway, did anyone here actually see Che?"

    I didn't, no. Wasn't interested in watching a hagiography about a mass-murderer.

  4. "Anyway, did anyone here actually see Che?"

    I didn't, no. Wasn't interested in watching a hagiography about a mass-murderer.

    But I did enjoy Wells' link to The Limey. Could there possibly be more english slang in a 1.30 minute clip in any other movie ever made.

  5. I think the problem for the movie's lack of success is that nobody outside of South and Central America–with the exception of a group of obsessed conservatives–really have any knowledge of who Che was or why the movie would be worth seeing.

  6. I think the reason for the movie's lack of success is that nobody outside of South and Central America–with the exception of a group of obsessed conservatives–really have any knowledge of who Che was or why the movie would be worth seeing.

    • Well that, and the fact it was four hours…

      • I saw the Motorcycle Diaries, but not Che.

        I think people missed out on seeing Che because it piled up as much crap in 4 hours as Toronto has in a month.

  7. Whenever I see someone wearing a Che t-shirt I'm tempted to remind them of Che's famous line "I'd like to confess, papa', at that moment I discovered that I really like killing.” in reference to his first execution. The man who had thousands executed (including young boys) for their political resistance is not someone I'd like to see lionized in a film. A film showing the full story would be interesting, but a propaganda piece intended to justify the far left's obsession with the man is not.

    • Whenever I see someone wearing a Che t-shirt

      In 44 years, 20 of them living in Toronto, I've never seen someone wearing a Che t-shirt yet every conservative on the internet encounters these people on a routine basis. Funny that.

      I'm tempted to remind them

      I'm sure you are. You should actually do it. Don't be surprised though if they slowly back away from you like they would to any random crazy person that accosts them on the street.

      • every conservative on the internet encounters these people on a routine basis
        Why would you try to point out the folly of making ridiculous generalizations, by making a ridiculous generalization?

      • every conservative on the internet encounters these people on a routine basis
        Why would you try to point out the folly of making ridiculous generalizations by making a ridiculous generalization?

        • I wasn't pointing out the folly of making ridiculous generalizations.

          • If it pleases you, then:
            Why would you try to point out the folly of an exaggeration by making a ridiculous exaggeration?

            Or are you taking issue with the likelihood that Gaunilon has ever seen even a single Che t-shirt? Personally, I am quite certain I have seen at least half a dozen of them, is Vancouver really that different from Toronto?

          • Or are you taking issue with the likelihood that Gaunilon has ever seen even a single Che t-shirt?

            Bingo!

          • I liked your point about McClelland's exaggeration about "every conservative on the internet [encountering Che T-shirts] on a routine basis." But I don't get which exaggeration you think he was trying to contest. Guevara was Castro's executioner, did indeed execute (personally or by supervision) thousands, many of these were young boys, and his image is indeed worn around the world by Marxists, anarchists, and the far left. Furthermore the film's plot, as far as I can make out, completely overlooks his atrocities (correct me if I'm wrong). So where's the exaggeration?

            As to McClelland's claim that he's never seen a Che t-shirt, that's remarkable. Apparently t's the most reproduced image in the world. I've seen several in the GTA, in the US, in Europe, and apparently one was even posted on the wall of an Obama campaign office. I couldn't help laughing when McClelland came out with ridicule at the notion that someone might actually have seen a Che t-shirt in the street.

          • I liked your point about McClelland's exaggeration about "every conservative on the internet [encountering Che T-shirts] on a routine basis." But I don't get which exaggeration you think he was trying to contest. Guevara was Castro's executioner, did indeed execute (personally or by supervision) thousands, many of these were young boys, and his image is indeed worn around the world by Marxists, anarchists, and the far left. Furthermore the film's plot, as far as I can make out, completely overlooks his atrocities (correct me if I'm wrong). So where's the exaggeration?

            As to McClelland's claim that he's never seen a Che t-shirt, that's remarkable. Apparently it's the most reproduced image in the world. I've seen several in the GTA, in the US, in Europe, and apparently one was even posted on the wall of an Obama campaign office. I couldn't help laughing when McClelland came out with ridicule at the notion that someone might actually have seen a Che t-shirt in the street.

          • I liked your point about McClelland's exaggeration about "every conservative on the internet [encountering Che T-shirts] on a routine basis." But I don't get which exaggeration you think he was trying to contest. Guevara was Castro's executioner, did indeed execute (personally or by supervision) thousands, many of these were young boys, and his image is indeed worn around the world by Marxists, anarchists, and the far left. Furthermore the film's plot, as far as I can make out, completely overlooks his atrocities (correct me if I'm wrong). So where's the exaggeration?

            As to McClelland's claim that he's never seen a Che t-shirt, that's remarkable. Apparently it's the most reproduced image in the world. I've seen several in the GTA, in the US, in Europe, and apparently one was even posted on the wall of an Obama campaign office. I couldn't help laughing when McClelland came out with ridicule at the notion that someone might actually have seen a Che t-shirt in the street. Methinks he doth protest too much.

          • I liked your point about McClelland's exaggeration "every conservative on the internet encounters [Che T-shirts] on a routine basis." But I don't get which "exaggeration" you think he was trying to contest. Guevara was Castro's executioner, did indeed execute (personally or by supervision) thousands, many of these were young boys, and his image is indeed worn around the world by Marxists, anarchists, and the far left. Furthermore the film's plot, as far as I can make out, largely overlooks his atrocities (correct me if I'm wrong). So where's the exaggeration?

            As to McClelland's claim that he's never seen a Che t-shirt, that's remarkable. Apparently it's the most reproduced image in the world. I've seen several in the GTA, in the US, in Europe, and apparently one was even posted on the wall of an Obama campaign office (granted, I only saw a photo of that one.) I couldn't help laughing when McClelland came out with ridicule at the notion that someone might actually have seen a Che t-shirt in the street. Methinks he doth protest too much.

            The guy was a mass-murderer, pure and simple. His own diary says that he enjoyed it. Rather than ridiculing anyone who points these facts out it would be better if the left came to grips with their reasons for admiring the man.

          • "The guy was a mass-murderer, pure and simple."

            He was obviously a lot more than that. He was a highly romantic figure. Newsflash for Gaunilon: war criminals can be highly romantic figures.

          • "The guy was a mass-murderer, pure and simple."

            He was obviously a lot more than that. He was a highly romantic figure. Newsflash for Gaunilon: war criminals can be highly romantic figures. Anyway, the point of his (and many other revolutionaries', on both left and right) butchering of the opposition is that they would have done the same and it's a dog-eat-dog world, take it or leave it. Which isn't really true about Canada, but it certainly has been and will be true about other places in the world at various points. Anyway, his antithesis, Franco, gets some nice mentions every now and then on the American right.

          • Good point about dog-eat-dog world of revolutionaries, however, you seem to imply that we should all just merrily go along with romantic depictions that ignore real deeds.

          • Not at all; I don't wear Che t-shirts. But those who do are not intending to celebrate his evil deeds, of which they are presumably ignorant, so much as his intention of releasing bent-backed sunburnt peasants from tyranny, which is not an evil intention at all. Passing judgment on Che Guevara is about as sensible, in a Canadian, as passing judgment on Napoleon Bonaparte.

          • I think it is fair enough to pose the question of whether Guevara, at some point, stopped serving the interests of the bent-backed peasants and starting serving only his own brand of ideology that wanted to replace one brand of tyranny with another of the same.

          • I think he was just an egomaniac.

          • Newsflash for Mitchell: Hitler was also a "highly romantic figure". He held the love and adulation of an entire nation. This does not excuse film-makers from glossing over his atrocities when making biopics. Same goes for Guevara. The fact that he is loved by the far left says one of two things: (a) they're historically ignorant, even concerning their own icons, or (b) they think bloodlust and mass murder are acceptable when fighting the right.
            I know (a) is correct, and I am starting to wonder about (b).

            As an aside, I've never seen conservatives walking around in Pinochet or Franco t-shirts. Nor have I ever seen a picture of either on the wall of a Republican campaign office. Have you? Because if not, your point about there being these serial murderers on both left and right is irrelevant. Conservatives don't adulate psychopaths who enjoy killing kids, as a general rule. Apparently said general rule doesn't apply to leftists.

          • Obviously, as I said above, most people who wear Che shirts are not aware that he was in charge of executing people, so really your rhetoric about the left is, once again, purely for your own edification.

            I'm sure there'd be Franco and Pinochet t-shirts available if a) there were any hip young right-wingers (unfortunately there haven't been any of those since the days of T. E. Lawrence) and b) either general hadn't been ugly as sin. Anyway, as mentioned, Che committed his crimes in the name of human equality, which is rather sexier a concept than helping out Spanish or Chilean landowners.

          • Obviously, as I said above, most people who wear Che shirts are not aware that he was in charge of executing people, so really your rhetoric about the left is, once again, purely for your own edification.

            I'm sure there'd be Franco and Pinochet t-shirts available if a) there were any hip young right-wingers (unfortunately there haven't been any of those since the days of T. E. Lawrence) and b) either general hadn't been ugly as sin. Anyway, as mentioned, Che committed his crimes in the name of human equality, which is rather sexier a concept than helping out Spanish or Chilean landowners.

            "Conservatives don't adulate psychopaths who enjoy killing kids, as a general rule."

            If only this were true. Actually militarism is a far more serious threat from the right than from the left, as a glance at your fellow Bush enthusiasts might have taught you by now.

          • Obviously, as I said above, most people who wear Che shirts are not aware that he was in charge of executing people, so really your rhetoric about the left is, once again, purely for your own edification. Of course this does not absolve them of ignorance, but the ignorance of your average Che fan is hardly confined to his choice of political icons.

            I'm sure there'd be Franco and Pinochet t-shirts available if a) there were any hip young right-wingers (unfortunately there haven't been any of those since the days of T. E. Lawrence) and b) either general hadn't been ugly as sin. Anyway, as mentioned, Che committed his crimes in the name of human equality, which is rather sexier a concept than helping out Spanish or Chilean landowners.

            "Conservatives don't adulate psychopaths who enjoy killing kids, as a general rule."

            If only this were true. Actually militarism is a far more serious threat from the right than from the left, as a glance at your fellow Bush enthusiasts might have taught you by now.

          • The exaggeration that I was speaking of was the number of Che t-shirts you may have seen. Moreover, I wasn't agreeing with McClelland on the point that it was an exaggerated claim, I was merely pointing out that if that was his issue, he picked a very strange way to oppose it. Kudo's on the link regarding Che's image, it totally discredits McClelland's claim.

            From what I remember of the movie, it was a romantic depiction of Guevara, glossing over his own deeds, but not entirely.

          • Kudo's on the link regarding Che's image, it totally discredits McClelland's claim.

            No it doesn't, unless Gaunilon lives in South America. Otherwise an article on the popularity of Che's image down there has absolutely no bearing on the appearance of it in Canada.

  8. I saw it and it was far far better than Medeliin, with apologies to Adrian Grenier, errr, Vincent Chase.

  9. I saw it and it was far far better than Medellin, with apologies to Adrian Grenier, errr, Vincent Chase.

  10. I saw the film (Part 1 and Part 2). CHE was a great film for those who are familiar with that era's history. Deltoro is absolutely fantastic as Che. Soderbergh did a beautiful job with the film. How could Soderbergh have been bullied (by an actor, at that!) to do a film? Soderbergh was as excited as any of the people involved in that project (even during the promotional tours for the film). It's lame that he now says he shouldn't have made the film. Moneywise, it might not have been a wise decision, but artistically you can bet it was. Bullied? Hm… get a spine, Soderbergh!