Sunday, 22 July 2018

Lima, Peru

As a 23-year-old medical student Ernesto "Che" Guevara made a journey through Latin America on a motorcycle, together with his friend Alberto Granado. The movie THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES (original title: Diarios de Motocicleta) is based on the dairy he kept, first published in 1995. The film premiered on 15 January 2004 at the Sundance Film Festival.

The Motorcycle Diaries, 0:08:00
The movie was filmed on location in Argentina, Peru, Chile and Cuba. It must have been quite a challenge for the production crew to find locations that could pass for 1952. The end credits mention all cities and countries, otherwise I have not been able to find more information about the on location shooting. The film itself lists all dates from the dairy. Guevara (Gael García Bernal) and Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna) arrived on 12 May 1952 in Lima, the capital of Peru.

In Lima they would meet doctor Hugo Pesce, director of the national leprosy program. This meeting lead to volunteer work for three weeks at a leper colony. I could not find the location of the doctor’s house, but I did locate the street that is seen when the historic city is visited.

Monastery of San Francisco, Lima, 23 June 2018
With no street signs visible, the only clue I had was the yellow tower in the background. This belongs to the church of the monastery of San Francisco. The building dates from the seventeenth century. It has been damaged on several occasions by earthquakes but the original style has been retained. The catacombs were used as a cemetery until 1810 and can be visited during a full tour of the monastery. It is not allowed to take photographs or make video recordings.

The street that leads to the monastery is called Jirón Ancash, constructed in 1535 after Francisco Pizarro founded the city of Lima on 18 January. In the film part of the street is seen, between the monastery and the presidential palace. Only pedestrians have access. The street looked different during our visit than in the film, note for example the facades and the colours of the buildings. Perhaps this was done to make it appear as it was in the 1950s, maybe the street was renovated some time after filming was completed.

The Motorcycle Diaries, 1:06:57
Jirón Ancash, Lima, 23 June 2018
The Motorcycle Diaries, 1:07:01
Jirón Ancash, Lima, 23 June 2018
The Motorcycle Diaries, 1:07:12
Jirón Ancash, Lima, 23 June 2018
The Motorcycle Diaries, 1:07:13
Jirón Ancash, Lima, 23 June 2018
The Motorcycle Diaries, 1:07:15
Jirón Ancash, Lima, 23 June 2018
Screenshots © Focus Features/FilmFour

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