The Motorcycle Diaries is a classic in its own right. For me, it’s a rare film that only comes along once every few decades. Elegant, thought provoking and realistic are all words that spring to mind when thinking of the cinematography from this movie. The acting and script are authentic and, with few exceptions, stay true to the tale of Ernestro ‘Che’ Guevara de la serna and his epic journey across his home continent of South America alongside best friend, Alberto Grenado.
To see what this has anything at all to do with Hip Hop and read more about this classic flick, keep reading after the jump.
Before Guevara went on to become the cult icon he is today and before playing a major role in the Cuban revolution, Che witnessed first hand the casualties of capitalism, his own people. His coming in to contact with ill treated miners, peasants and lepers is portrayed masterfully by director Walter Salles. Without falling in to that Arthouse cinema trap of trying too hard to be ‘arty’ or ‘thoughtful’, Salles manages to pull of some of the most reflective montages shot in black and white (a trademark of the best) ever witnessed on film. To put it bluntly, this film has some of the greatest ‘stop talking’ moments I’ve ever experienced. As the director depicts his characters’ own reflections of the sights and people they have just seen, we too find ourselves utterly silent (even if watching with a friend) ourselves reflecting over the plight of the faces on the screen before us and the journey of our protagonists. Below is the final scene from the film, if you want to skip straight to the montage and the track, entitled ‘De Usuahia a la Quiaca’, skip to 3:00 minutes in:
To UN-seamlessly tie this all back to Hip Hop, I’d like to talk about the soundtrack to such a flawless movie. Well the word ‘reflective’ has been thrown around a lot by me when describing the movie so what better way to describe the soundtrack? It’s a perfect supplement, in some ways the soundtrack almost outshines the screenplay. Gustavo Santaolalla creates flowing guitar rifts throughout, that mimic all the ups and downs of life on the road.
On the track specifically in question here Santaolalla completely captures the atmosphere of the film ending, by embodying all the things mentioned in the previous paragraphs, in audio form. The melancholy feel of two great friends parting after spending every waking moment of the previous 6 months together, the sadness of a continent that has endured centuries of pain and suffering at the hands of dictators and colonialists and perhaps most importantly, purveying a sense of anticipation. The man who has just left on an aeroplane is not the same timid mama’s boy that set foot on that Norton 500 motorcycle back in Buenos Aires. The soft guitar rifts create an omen of things to come. See the video above and take note of the words on the screen to see exactly what was to come for Senhor Guevara.
A guy running by the name “1licketysplit1” caught my attention the other day with a Hip Hop version to the original Santaolalla beat (below). Any rhyme slingers we have viewing the blog, feel free to spit some revolutionary/conscious/whatever-you-damn-well-please rhymes over this here beat. ApexBeats, we salute you for this throwback to a classic. Immortal Tech needs to hop on this here one…
Hip Hop truly does transcend mediums, genre, race and time. That events happening in the 1930’s (such as the journey these two men took) can be made relevant to today’s generation by this remix, proves this.