Critical Film Review: “The Motorcycle Diaries”

3 May

I. Title, Director, Year of Release

“The Motorcycle Diaries” Directed by: Walter Salles, Released in 2004

II. Director Information: Qualifications, Background, Credentials (Look him or her up on

Has he or she directed other films? Do not copy directly from the Internet here. Summarize in your own words. Born on April 12 1956 Brazilian director Walter Salles is the son of a Brazilian banker and ambassador and heir to the Unibanko fortune. Salles comes from one of the wealthiest family in South America. Salles attended and studied at the University Of Southern California School Of Cinematic Arts. His first notable film was released in Brazil in 1995 entitled “Terra Estrangeira” which was a minor box office hit and shown at over forty film festivals worldwide.  Salles first film to gain international acclaim however was released in 1998, titled “Central do Brasil.” In 2004 he released the film “Diarios de Motocicleta” which was Salles box office hit and also his first attempt at directing in a language other than his native Portuguese. With more than ten films under his belt and another to be released in 2012, Salles has proven to be a very talented, influential director experience their journey.

III. Brief Summary or Description of the Plot or Intent of the Film. In your own words!!

“The Motorcycle Diaries” is the film adaptation of Ernesto Guevara’s journals also titled “The Motorcycle Diaries”. The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal, a 23-year-old medical student in 1952 traveling across South America on a motorcycle, his friend Alberto Granad accompanies him on this journey. Though the initial goal is to have a fun adventurous time as they embark on their travels, both young men experienced poverty and other trials and tribulations along the way. Ultimately their journey leads to the men transforming their original naive state of mind and discovering themselves mentally and spiritually.

IV. Style: Was the film set up to provide a narrative (story) of the past?  Did the director attempt to tell the story with absolute accuracy?  Or did the director take license and embellish-creating a work of historical fiction?  Or was the film a documentary style film, and if so, what sorts of scenes were included- was interview used to help inform the viewer?

“The Motorcycle Diaries” Is a well written and directed narrative style film. Salles uses unusual techniques to suggest how the boy’s experiences may have affected their lives and been a learning experience they would take with them in the future. He uses working class, peasants, and homeless to pose for black and white still shots in front of the camera instead of using photos. This helped to create the impression of memories that the boys would take with them as a result of this journey. This technique in my opinion was very clever and leads me to believe that the boys would use the knowledge gained on their journey to help others in the future.

V. Strengths & Weaknesses: Best Features? What (if anything) annoyed or bothered you?

Strengths: The scenery of the movie was a great strength for me. Salles displayed the beauty of South America so that viewers, including myself could appreciate the beautiful mountains, rivers, forests and desserts that South American countries have to offer.  Not only was the beauty of the country highlighted, but Salles did not leave out the harsh reality of the poverty-stricken areas of the county. In my opinion this was a very well done, non-biased film that I would recommend.

Weaknesses:  The length of this movie was one of its biggest downfalls in my opinion. It was slightly difficult for me to pay attention to the subtitles for that length of time. I felt as though I would have been able to enjoy the movie even further if there was an English translated version of the film.

VI. Purpose: How well did the director and or writer of the film achieve his or her purpose?  If he/she was making an argument, did he or she succeed in convincing you?

In my opinion Salles was a success in highlighting the beauty of South America with magnificent shots of geographical landmarks. He also shows the hardships and differences among people in poverty-stricken regions of South America. Salles did a wonderful job of convincing me that we all serve a purpose in this life and we can achieve great things if we open our minds to things going on outside of are immediate surroundings.

VII. Critical Analysis:  What impact might the film have on the discipline of geography?  In other words, how do we learn about the physical, political and cultural geography of Latin America by watching this film?

“The Motorcycle Diaries” Shows lush landscapes and geographical land marks that distinguish the different countries in South America. Salles does a wonderful job of exposing the economic differences among cultures encountered by the boys along their journey.   Not only highlighting the positive aspects of the countries traveled, Salles also brings to our attention as viewers the harsh reality of some of the poverty-stricken areas of the country.

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