Epic film "Che" looks at guerrilla's life and death

Thu May 22, 2008 9:04am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Benicio del Toro plays Argentine guerrilla Ernesto "Che" Guevara in an epic four-hour double bill which looks first at his role in the Cuban uprising before moving to his campaign and eventual death in Bolivia.

Steven Soderbergh directed the Spanish-language movie "Che," which may be released in theatres in two parts titled "The Argentine" and "Guerrilla," although he would also like to give movie goers the chance to see them together.

Soderbergh, who won the Cannes film festival's Palme d'Or for best film in 1989 with "Sex, Lies & Videotape," said he was fascinated by the character of Guevara, who has gone on to become a symbol of rebellion the world over.

"Cuba is less of an issue for me than Che," he told reporters on Thursday in Cannes, where "Che" is in the main competition of 22 entries.

"I think he's great movie material is really what it comes down to. He had one of the most fascinating lives I can imagine in the last century."

Soderbergh originally intended to make a film only about Guevara's bid to stoke rebellion in Bolivia, but felt audiences needed to know about what happened in Cuba first.

"To understand why he thought they could win in Bolivia you needed to see what happened in Cuba, because the odds were similar at a certain point."

For Oscar-winning del Toro, who was born in Puerto Rico, playing the idolized idealist was a daunting task.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Benicio Del Toro attends a news conference for the film "Che" by director Steven Soderbergh at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 22, 2008. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>