Editor’s note: As 2018 drew to a close, we shared our favorite car movies as an alternative to the Hallmark holiday movies that some people watch this time of year. So this year we’re adding a twist to the series, sharing the 10-favorite motorcycle movies selected in a poll of the ClassicCars.com Journal staff. The series begins today with No. 5 The Motorcycle Diaries.
In 1952, a 23-year-old medical student and his 29-year-old biochemist friend set off on a motorcycle ride from their home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To his friends, that last-semester medical student was known as “Fuser,” but in a few years Ernesto Guevara de la Serna would become known to the world as Ernesto Che Guevara, right-hand lieutenant to Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
“In 1952, 23-year-old medical student…one semester away from graduation, decides to postpone his last semester to accompany his 29-year-old biochemist friend ‘Alberto Granado’ — Mial to his friends — on his four month, 8,000 km long dream motorcycle trip throughout South America,” reports the movie website imdb.com.
“Their quest is to see things they’ve only read about in books about the continent on which they live, and to finish that quest on Alberto’s 30th birthday on the other side of the continent in the Guajira Peninsula in Venezuela.
“Not all on this trip goes according to their rough plan due to a broken down motorbike, a continual lack of money (they often stretching the truth to gain the favor of a variety of strangers to help them), arguments between the two in their frequent isolation solely with each other, their raging libidos which sometimes get them into trouble, and dealing with Fuser’s chronic asthma.
“But a chance encounter with a couple of Communists in the Chilean desert and an extended visit to the San Pablo Leper Colony in the Perúvian Amazon Basin among other things profoundly affects what each will want to do with his life and the bond each has with the other.”
The movie, based on the book that Guevara and Granado had written soon after their journey, was released in 2004, earned nominations for best foreign-language film at the Golden Globes and for best writing of an adapted screenplay and best achievement in music written for motion pictures from the Academy Awards, winning the Oscar in the latter category.
Robert Redford was the movie’s executive producer.
A note of film trivia: Gael Garcia Bernal portrays Guevara in the movie and also played him in the 2002 miniseries, Fidel. In the movie, Granado is played by Rodrigo de la Serna, a real-life cousin of Guevara’s.