Following the gap year of discovery (Motorcycle Diaries) and the triumphant revolution (Che: Part One) comes the dark and gloomy descent into failure, and **SPOILER ALERT*** death. Che: Part Two, or “Che: The Final Years”, is the conclusion to Stepehn Soderberg’s two part Che extravaganza, telling the story of Che’s ill-fated Bolivian expedition.
It’s a different type of film d to Che: Part One (if you regard the two are separate, which maybe you shouldn’t). Put simply, in this one everything goes wrong. Whereas in Part One, you saw the gradual triumph of the Cuban Revolution, here you see Che and his band of Bolivian revolutionaries slowly lose hope, with the fight for Bolivia quickly becoming a fight for survival. Che’s asthma again features, stripping him of some of his power.
The final scenes- the “Passion of the Che” as I believe Peter Bradshaw put it in the Guardian – are, for all their sadness, remarkably straightforward, and not at all drawn out. Indeed, as you feel yourself feeling sad for Che, you realise that this is not what he wants – nor what Soderberg wants- this is a death without sentiment, a moment without redemption. There is no dwelling on Che’s family, who he will never see again, nor his inner thoughts about his life up until the bullets hit him.
Having said all this, the lack of emotion, of emotive redemption, makes the final scene of the movie all the more powerful. In Che: One, we were treated to Che dressing down some revolutionaries who had commandeered a red open-top Chevy – a hilarious and insightful scene noting his exasperation at those ‘revolutionaries’ who, for him, still did not get it. In Che: Two, we see Che staring towards the front of the boat en route to Cuba, at Fidel. Is this ending meant as a silent repromand for Fidel’s unwillingness to take the revolution further? It’s certainly evocative, and it captures Che’s spirit better than any other moment in this movie, which for all its technical skills and pacing, does not shed much light on Che as a person. Still, that was maybe never its intention, and as a standalone piece it is a satisfying conclusion to the two parter- well paced, well shot, and showing a man who knows his goal – spreading equality throughout a country and a continent run by dictators and special interests. For all its lack of typical Hollywood glitz and emotion-laden scenes, Che: Part Two paints the picture of a true revolutionary.