DVD: Che: Parts One and Two (15)

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The Independent Culture

If you ever wanted to know what the blow-by-blow run-up to the 1959 Cuban Revolution was like, then here it is. In part one of this four-hour effort, Steven Soderbergh tells the definitive account of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro's painstaking campaign through the Cuban undergrowth, culminating in their assault on Havana, in all its regime-busting glory.

The journey is cut together with an account of Guevara's visit to the United Nations in 1964, where he is vilified and applauded in equal measure. In the second instalment, similarly clinical treatment is given to Guevara's 1967 attempted overthrow of the Bolivian government, which ended in the revolutionary's execution at the hands of the CIA-trained Bolivian administration.

Light watching it isn't, and it suffers from a somewhat hagiographic treatment of its lead protagonist, who apart from the odd revolutionary platitude and some heavy coughing, reveals little of his inner self. But it has the aura of an epic about it, all the same, and Soderbergh's versatility as a film-maker, a creative who can go from Ocean's 12 to this, is certainly impressive. Extras include interviews with Benicio del Toro (who seems to have studied Guevara's mannerisms down to the last asthmatic hack) and the film's composer, Alberto Iglesias. The package proves enthralling and mind-numbing in equal measure.