"Che: Rise and Fall" is an award-winning documentary by Eduardo Montes-Bradley exploring three key aspects in the life of Ernesto Guevara: The Rise to power in Cuba, the failure of his incursion in Africa, and his final days in Bolivia. "Che: Rise and Fall" was produced with the support of National Geographic in 2005.
"Che: Rise and Fall" begins with an exploration of Che's childhood in Argentina, providing a glimpse into his upbringing and the influence played on shaping his adventurous path through the readings of John Steinbeck and the Spanish Civil War. His first significant adventure came after a motorcycle trip across Latin America. The journey came to life in Walter Salles's The Motorcycle Diaries. But it was at the end of that journey that Ernesto Guevara became "Che" while embracing the cause of Internationalism and world revolution. In Mexico, Guevara meets Fidel Castro, and the rest is history. The Cuban campaign will be his first and ultimately only successful campaign. Restless after the revolution's triumph, he embarks on a new "adventure".
The next chapter of "Che: Rise and Fall" is dedicated to his adventures in Africa, where we learn from his comrades in arms and bodyguards how Che used his influence and stature to encourage violent protests and to assist local guerrillas in their anti-colonialist struggles. The African experience ends in disaster, and Che returns to Cuba to prepare yet for a final conflict.
The final chapter of Guevara's struggle takes place in the jungles of Bolivia, where he was hoping to establish a continental base that would serve as a springboard for a triumphant return to Argentina, where he was hoping to conquer and impose the Cuban revolutionary model. This final chapter of the documentary explores his last days as he gets surrounded by the Bolivian military forces and the support of the CIA. His capture, execution, and burial in an unmarked grave will significantly contribute to the construction of the myth that continues to surround the memory of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. As the documentary draws to a close, we follow Che's repatriation of remains to Cuba and reflect on the myth and his legacy impact.
"Che: Rise and Fall" provide a balanced perspective on a sensitive subject. This historical character has inspired outrage and admiration on both sides of the political spectrum. He was a liberator to many; to others, he was a cruel murderer and ambitious adventurer. Regardless, his iconic portrait continues to emerge on T-Shirts worn worldwide as a talisman, a "religious" symbol against oppression.
Production and Interviews by Marcelo Schapces
With the collaboration of Alberto Castellanos, Alberto Granado, Argudin Mendoza, Enrique Oltuski, Enrique Villegas, and Alberto Korda.
Directed by Eduardo Montes-Bradley
Produced with the support of National Geographic and Patagonia Film Group, 2007