Radical differences: a guide to telling your revolutionary biopics apart

A big beret to fill

A big beret to fill

Tomorrow night at the Walter Reade Theater, Film Comment Selects a biopic of a certain fatigue-sporting folk hero best known for leading the Cuban revolution.

Wait a second, you say, didn’t Che already make a rare appearance in it’s four-and-a-half-hour glory during the New York Film Festival? Yes, but that was the Steven Soderbergh-directed Che.

Benicio Del Toro as Che

This, my friends, is the rarely screened 1969 classic starring Omar Sharif embodying the indelible visage of emblazoned upon the threadbare t-shirts of grad students everywhere. And between Richard Fleischer’s blast-from-the-past biopic Che! and Soderbergh’s groundbreaking Spanish-language epic, there are some radical differences. To wit…

Omar Sharif as Che!

Omar Sharif as Che!

Directors:

Soderbergh (Che): Famous for putting Sundance on the map with 1989’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

Fleischer (Che!): Famous for helming the film that brought the world the phrase: “…is made out of people!!!”

Castro was played by…

Che: Demián Bichir, a Mexican actor

Che!: Jack Palance, the famous one-armed push-up doing Oscar winner

Production:

Che: working characteristically fast and loose, Soderbergh shot Che himself, using a brand-new hi-def camera called The RedONE. The first half of the film was shot in anamorphic, while the second half was confined to a less wide-screen scope. [Watch Soderbergh talk about his process in an exclusive Film Society Q&A]

Che!: Widescreen all the way–this feature was pure Hollywood production.

If you saw Che, or even the Motorcycle Diaries, Che! is a new lens on understanding a pivotal historical moment. And it just goes to show: one exclamation point can mean a world of difference.

Buy your tickets now: Tue Oct 28: 6:35

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