Motorcycle Diaries, The (Diarios de motocicleta) (Blu-ray) (2004)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 4-Nov-2009

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 125:48
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Walter Salles
Icon Entertainment Starring Gael García Bernal
Rodrigo De la Serna
Mercedes Morán
Jean Pierre Noher
Lucas Oro
Marina Glezer
Sofia Bertolotto
Franco Solazzi
Ricardo Díaz Mourelle
Sergio Boris
Daniel Cargieman
Diego Giorzi
Case ?
RPI ? Music Gustavo Santaolalla

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Spanish DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Beautifully filmed on location, The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta) is an enjoyable film that mixes the genres of road movie and biopic, with a gentle coming of age story. Opening in 1952, the film looks at an influential period in the life of future revolutionary leader, and poster boy of communism, Ché Guevara. Based on the books The Motorcycle Diaries written by Ché and his travelling companion, Alberto Granado, the screenplay by José Rivera wisely doesn’t seek to glorify Ché, nor his politics, but merely looks to provide an explanation as to how he came to believe in such violent and radical solutions for the social problems he saw around him in Latin America.

    In January 1952, a 29-year-old biochemist Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna) and his younger friend, the 23-year-old medical student, Ernesto (later Ché ) Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal), set off from Buenos Aires for an adventure through Latin America on an old, but treasured, 1939 Norton 500 motorbike, nicknamed “La Poderosa (the Mighty One)”. Covering over 15,000 Kms, their journey was to have a fundamental impact on both young men, and in time, on Latin America as well.

    The first part of their journey is more or less as they expect, but confronted by grinding, day-to-day poverty, the two young men begin to see Latin America differently. Both from middle class backgrounds, they have their eyes opened to the widespread hardship and sickness that many of their people endure, as well as the greed of some of the corporations who exploit them. Their growing social conscience and the development of Guevara's politicisation is well handled by both the director, Walter Salles, and by the talented young Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal.

    Understandably, the film has stirred considerable criticism since its release a few years ago. Many have questioned the film’s portrayal of Ché, who many have since come to see as an enemy of freedom, as he was a staunch communist and militant totalitarian. But this younger Ché is portrayed as wide-eyed and caring. Perhaps this is the idealistic character that you might imagine sitting behind the striking face seen on so many t-shirts and leftist university posters?

    You don’t have to like Ché's politics to be interested in why he chooses such a radical path. Both left and right-wing revolutionaries are invariably chasing the same ideal – freedom from oppression. Indeed, one aspect of the approach to this biopic that I enjoy is that it seeks to explain why Ché ended up as a revolutionary. Most biopics today seem content to merely dramatise the most well-known events in a person’s life, often with a love story (with a real or fictional character) thrown in for good measure.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The Motorcycle Diaries is a visually striking film, and Eric Gautier's cinematography captures some of the many landscapes of Latin America, ranging from vast deserts, to snow-covered mountains, and lush green valleys. One of the visual highlights of the film are the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, the BD's high definition transfer is not what I hoped for. Indeed, you could be forgiven for thinking you're watching an old DVD. Most scenes appear soft and even a little grainy, although fortunately this suits the film's mood and might reflect the original print. As a blu-ray, The Motorcycle Diaries lacks the razor sharp detail and bright, vibrant appearance of more recent, big-budget films, but it is still very enjoyable to watch.

    The Motorcycle Diaries has been authored in 1920 x 1080p. The film has been encoded using AVC MPEG-4 compression, and is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, in a native 16x9 frame, which is the same as its original theatrical aspect ratio.

    The colour is rather drab and appears washed-out throughout. The black levels and contrast also suffer, as does the shadow detail, but I assume this relates to the limitations of the original print and the age of it. The skin tones are accurate.

     Although film grain is noticeable, there are no problems with MPEG artefacts, such as pixelization. There are no major problems with Film-To-Video Artefacts, such as aliasing, but some slight telecine wobble is noticeable during the opening credits. Despite the age of the print, film artefacts are not a problem.

    Strangely, only English subtitles are offered, and they are optional.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The Motorcycle Diaries is a dialogue-based drama, and the BD's surround audio is limited but appropriate. There is only one audio option offered on this BD, Spanish dts Master Audio, but considering the original sound design, a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix would have been good enough.

    The Spanish dialogue quality and audio sync are fine throughout.

    The film's original score is credited to Gustavo Santaolalla, who went on to win Oscars for his scores for Brokeback Mountain and Babel. His score here also won him a BAFTA, and it beautifully captures both the mood of the film, and the varying landscapes of Latin America. Jorge Drexler’s song Al otro lado del río won the Academy Award in 2005 for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Surprisingly, there are no extras on the BD - not even the extras that were included on the original Magna Pacific DVD release.

Floating Pop-Up Menu

    As with other BDs, the menu can be accessed while the film is playing. There is also an animated Main Menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The US BD was released in November 2009, and from what I can tell is the same as ours.


   Perhaps when watching this film, it’s easier to ignore the politics and what we know about this real historical figure, and enjoy the film as a human drama, filled with the youthful excitement, idealism, hope, and plenty of beautiful scenery? If you already own the DVD, I would think twice before 'upgrading'.

The video quality resembles an old DVD.

The audio quality is limited.

There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Monday, February 22, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic High Definition 50' Plasma (127 cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSamsung Pure Digital 6.1 AV Receiver (HDMI 1.3)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Hoping for better - REPLY POSTED
It's better than the DVD at least. -