The Motorcycle Diaries

Director: Walter Salles
Screenwriters: José Rivera

Institute History


The humanization of a myth is both the task and triumph of Walter Salles's The Motorcycle Diaries, a film adapted from the journals of Ernesto "Che" Guevara and his traveling companion, Dr. Alberto Granado. Almost mythic in itself, in the vein of the seminal texts of that rebellious generation in the 1970s, The Motorcycle Diaries, superbly scripted by Jose Rivera, recounts the odyssey undertaken by the young Guevara and his friend Granado in 1952, when Guevara was a 23-year-old medical student. They embarked on a nine-month adventure through South America on the back of a rather unreliable Norton 500cc bike. For those unfamiliar with the story, this is not the anecdotal history of a famous revolutionary's radicalization. Instead, The Motorcycle Diaries is a chronicle of young men leaving their sheltered nest and experiencing, indeed awakening to, the world around them.

With a gentle yet stirring power, Salles and his creative colleagues forge a work that touches the spirit as well as the mind, that gradually immerses you in the often-harsh realities of life across their native continent, that sears images into your brain of peoples and culture and a land's history. The performances by Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo de la Serna are extraordinary in a film that is ultimately about transformation: of its characters, its continent, and perhaps even us.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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