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Eartha loiie of Che


CHE GUEVARA and the iconography that surrounds him is all over the Festival this year. Paul Dale investigates the artistic legacy of the bearded revolutionary.

n the 3rd May 1900 a French cargo ship laden with

Belgian weapons exploded in Havana harbour and

killed 130 people. The liollowing day Che (iuevara appeared at a rally in Cuba where his comrade Fidel Castro was to point the linger ol‘ blame lirmly at the ['8 govermnent. Milling around the crowd was the photographer l‘ormerly known as Alberto Dia/ (iuttierrc/. now renamed Albert Korda. Alter another one of Castro’s laboriousl} long \\ inded speeches. (iuevara took to the stage and said a few triumphalist words against the imperial forces while making the clenched list salute. Kot‘da took his chance and snapped the photograph that was to both make and ultimately deride his career. Che the revolutionary icon was born. Alongside Lewis Morleyk portraits of (‘hristine Keeler. it was the image that would deline a generation l‘or better or for worse.

Che variously translates as 'hey you‘ or 'chum‘. 'buddy" or ‘kid‘. But Che's remains had lain too long and too coldly in the ground to have risen to this term ot‘ endearment when his body was exhumed from the Bolivian earth on I) October. “)97. Returned to Cuba in honour ol‘ "l‘he Year of the Still] Anniversary of the death in Combat ol’ the Heroic (iuerilla

and His Comrades“. Che‘s body was reburied in the town of

Santa Clara. a long way from his birth place or Rosario in Argentina. The celebrations for dead revolutionaries roared but then whispers began in certain quarters . suggesting that the Cuban government was more interested in promoting


(‘he's image than his actual ideas. many oi which conflicted with ('uba’s existing state policies. It seemed that socialism (underlined with the idea oi hatred as an eletncnt ol' the struggle as (iuevara proposed) was now too still a drink tor most left wing rel'ormist governments but ('he the

handsome monkey man revolutionary who stares out ol

Korda's classic photograph m was always a proposition l'or political. creative and commercial exploitation. As .lon l.ee Anderson. the author ol the excellent biography ('lit' (im'i‘um: A Revu/utimtrnjv Life. noted in a recent interview

with the .lli'umi' llw'u/(l: ‘('he is the last unplundered icon oi

the ()Us popular culture. and now can be looted l'or commercial Use in our entertainment culturef

And plunder the (‘he icon we have. While the ()()\. 70s. 80s and (Ms saw a handliul ol' respectl'ul. occasionally dull (with the notable exception of Paolo lleusch‘s extraordinarily strange feature film [i] ‘('ln" (iuevuru and Lindsay .-\nderson’s If in 1968) films about and alluding to (iuevara pass through lilm l'estivals around the world the noughties saw the hairy freedom lighter come into his own as a suitable subject for various lictionalised big screen projects. l‘ii‘st it was announced that the mighty Terrence Malick was to make the big budget biopic oi Che‘s me la movie that Steven Soderberg had hot housed from the script stage). Benicio del Toro. Javier Bardem. Ryan (iosling and l-‘ranka Potente were attached and everyone got excited for a while