Che: Ultimate icon of revolution

Chevolution

Documentary by producer/director Trisha Ziff and director Luis Lopez

Layout 1The Name Che means several things to several people. The ultimate icon of revolution, the face that has been printed most times in the world, Ernesto Che Guevara and his image taken by the Photographer Alberto Korda has passed the test of time and boundaries.

Whether the people know or not about Che and his ideologies, his image is a style statement.

From the posters to T-shirts and bikinies, in greeting cards to body tattoos, from cigarette packs to wines his face graces every possible place. Che who is the most revered icon of revolution and stands for values of ultimate socialism today has turned a corporate logo. The capitalist forces exploiting the very image of the man who stood against them, today has successfully created a myth called Che. A myth that is far away from reality.

Both the people who know and revere Che and those who don’t know who Che is, today prey victim to this myth.

The documentary Chevolution, by producer/director Trisha Ziff and director Luis Lopez is an attempt to analyze this myth, who Che was and how Che and his famous portrait image captured by Cuban fashion photographer Albert Korda has transformed from a revolutionary to a brand icon.

Chevolution begins with vox pop interviews with the people from different walks of life, about what Che means to them, who is Che and why they buy him… answers of course range from don’t know to he is cool and symbol of revolution and many more. To some he is an icon of revolution, comradeship, rebellion, freedom, to some he is hope and inspiration personified, a symbol of peace, humanity and concern , to some others he is cool, a fashion statement….

The chevolution also throws light to the early life of Che. Through the memoirs of his college mates and colleagues, archives and file photographs the director throws light on how the paths of Che crossed with Fidel Castro, on the mission they lead achieved together in Cuba.

It is a portrait image of Che Guevara captured by the photographer Alberta Korda that was responsible for the creation of Che as a brand icon. The documentary through a series of interviews of Korda’s daughter, Diana Diaz, who’s protecting the legacy of her father’s most famous work, Jon Lee Anderson, a biographer of Che’s life and other friends unveil a bonding that Korda, Castro and Che shared. It depicts the circumstances in which the famous portrait was clicked during a memoir service for the victims of a terrorist attack (1960 terrorist attack on the ship Le Cubre.) in Cuba. That image was not even carried by the local newspapers for publishing initially. Korda hung the photograph in his drawing room. It was only seven years later it was shown up internationally and conquered the world in a way either Che or Korda would not have wanted.

The documentary also portrays the post Cuba revolution and about the attempts of Che to foment guerrilla struggles in Bolivia and Congo and the death of Che in Bolivia in 1968. It was after his death the Che portrait surfaced internationally.

Though the documentary clearly analyses the myth surrounding Che Guevara in all the possible angles, lacks crispiness in narration, too many voxpops and loose script with drifting focus with many irrelevant details dilutes the essence. Comparison of Che to Christ in such a detail would have been avoided. Chevolution definitely gives an understanding of the phenomena called Che for the viewers.

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