One, two, Che-Che-Che in film, print and on stage

Suddenly, it's au courant to say `Viva la revolucion!'

Trends

March 07, 2004|By Greg Morago | Greg Morago,THE HARTFORD COURANT

It appears that some Communist revolutionaries never really die - they just keep inspiring new generations of beret-wearing acolytes.

Che Guevara, the Argentine-born guerrilla leader who became a hero to the New Left radicals of the 1960s, has been dead since 1967. But the spirit of the revolutionary theorist is very much alive.

Oh, sure, there have been minor Che moments recently (Elizabeth Hurley was photographed in London wearing a Che T-shirt; rapper Jay-Z sports similar Che-wear on the cover of his MTV Unplugged recording; humorist Margaret Cho uses an iconic Cho-as-Che illustration to promote her latest "Revolution Tour").

Still, that's small potatoes to the load of new Che-related and Che-inspired events in pop culture, including:

Che in film: Robert Redford was in Havana last month, not to score cigars but to screen his The Motorcycle Diaries for Cuban President Fidel Castro. The Motorcycle Diaries, which Redford produced, is based on the diaries Guevara wrote on a nine-month motorcycle trip through South America in 1952. Directed by Brazilian Walter Salles, it stars Gael Garcia Bernal (who moviegoers will remember from Y Tu Mama Tambien).

Guevara's widow, Aleida March, attended the screening along with Guevara's son and two daughters. The movie had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it received a standing ovation.

Che's life and times are being explored by director Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line), whose Che will star Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro. Che will follow Guevara's revolutionary career, from his days as a doctor in Argentina to his role in Castro's guerrilla war against Batista to his time as an insurgent leader in Bolivia, where he was captured and executed by the Bolivian army at the age of 39.

The movie, expected to be released next year, will also star Javier Bardem.

Che in print: Ana Menendez's first novel, Loving Che, is immersed in Che-morabilia and even shows the rebel leader on the book cover. In Loving Che, a woman goes to Cuba in search of information about the mother she never knew.

Instead, she receives a mysterious package containing photographs and letters detailing her mother's secret love affair with Guevara.

Released last year by Atlantic Monthly Press to glowing reviews, Loving Che was selected as a New York Times notable book of the year.

Che on stage: The strains of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" might soon be heard on Broadway again. Evita, the musical of the life of Eva Peron, narrated by Che Guevara, is being talked up for a major revival next year.

According to Playbill, the musical's composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, has met with producer Cameron Mackintosh to plan a revival of the show, whose original production closed in 1983.

Evita won a Tony Award for Mandy Patinkin (Chicago Hope), who played Che in the original production.

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