Filming the Bolivarian Zeitgeist

Documentary Film

In many ways, Oliver Stone’s latest documentary film South of the Border is a mirror image of the 2004 film adaptation of The Motorcycle Diaries. In this latter film, based on the journals of a young Ernesto “Che” Guevara, two young idealists strike out across the South American continent on a motorcycle in search of adventure, but instead find passion, resilience, and a Latin American identity that transcended all political borders.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Substitute Oliver Stone for the young Che, Tariq Ali for Che’s sidekick, Alberto Granado, a jet for the motorcycle, and Hugo Chávez for the ghost of Simon Bolivar and, more or less, you’ve got South of the Border.

Stone’s film doesn’t quite capture the full reality of Latin America’s turn leftward. But like Che on his motorcycle, Stone manages to discover a new pan-Latin American identity.

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Hugo Chavez, Latin America