In 1952, an idealistic medical-student named Ernesto Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado embarked on a months-long trip across South America: their means of conveyance — at least, until its untimely breakdown — is a beat-up motorcycle they call La Poderosa (“the Beast”). That trip is the subject of Walter Salles’ lyrical film, in which the spiritual and political awakening of the revolutionary who would soon take the name “Che” is almost secondary to the story of two friends on an adventure of a lifetime. In a 2004 NPR interview, screenwriter José Rivera said: “Every generation needs a journey story; every generation needs a story about what it is to be transformed by geography, what it is to be transformed by encounters with cultures and people that are alien from yourself, and you know that age group 15 to 25, that’s the perfect generation to get on a motorcycle, to hit the road, to put on your backpack and just go out.”
THE MOTORCYCLE USED: Norton International. Restored Nortons were used in the film, along with a few modern bikes made by Suzuki (to be used in stunt scenes). Director Salles claimed the older British bikes were much more reliable.
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