|Maverick Malick set to shoot Che Guevara
Thursday July 17, 2003, The Guardian
Reclusive film-maker Terrence Malick (right) looks set to take up directing duties on an epic biopic of Che Guevara. In terms of Malick's career, this would be a rapid rate of production: before his 1998 comeback with The Thin Red Line, the director had gone 20 years without making a movie.
Che will star Benicio Del Toro as the revolutionary leader who became an icon of 60s counter-culture. The film was originally to have been directed by Steven Soderbergh, who last worked with Del Toro on the Oscar-winning Traffic. But Soderbergh is now believed to be limiting his involvement to an executive producing credit. Laura Bickford will take the main producing role, and the film looks likely to be backed by Warner Brothers.
Now in his 60s, Malick was feted as one of the most distinctive directors of 70s American cinema.
He made his debut with the lyrical true-crimes thriller ?Badlands? in 1973, and followed it up five years later with the poetic Depression-era saga ?Days of Heaven?. After two decades in recluse, he returned with the lengthy, languid, sporadically brilliant second world war drama ?The Thin Red Line?.
Malick and Guevara's paths have crossed before. Before moving into film-making, the former Rhodes scholar worked as a journalist. In 1967 he was on assignment in Bolivia on the day the guerrilla leader was captured and killed. Malick was subsequently commissioned to write a profile of Guevara for the New Yorker magazine, but according to his friend, Paul Lee, "he got drowned in it and never turned it in". Soderbergh and Warner Brothers will no doubt be hoping that history does not repeat itself.
Previous attempts on Che?s portrayal on film includes Richard Fleisher?s dismal ?Che? released in 1969 (see left) with Omar Sharif as legendary comandante and recently released ?The Motocycle Diaries? directed by Brazilian director Walter Salles which have been acclaimed by both critics and audience.
Malick?s ?Che? is due to be on general release sometime in 2005.