Young writer Sal Paradise has his life shaken by the arrival of free-spirited Dean Moriarty and his girl, Marylou. As they travel across the country, they encounter a mix of people who each impact their journey indelibly.
In 1952, twenty-three year old medical student Ernesto Guevara de la Serna - Fuser to his friends and later better known as 'Ernesto Che Guevara' - one semester away from graduation, decides to postpone his last semester to accompany his twenty-nine year old biochemist friend 'Alberto Granado' - Mial to his friends - on his four month, 8,000 km long dream motorcycle trip throughout South America starting from their home in Buenos Aires. Their quest is to see things they've only read about in books about the continent on which they live, and to finish that quest on Alberto's thirtieth birthday on the other side of the continent in the Guajira Peninsula in Venezuela. Not all on this trip goes according to their rough plan due to a broken down motorbike, a continual lack of money (they often stretching the truth to gain the favor of a variety of strangers to help them), arguments between the two in their frequent isolation solely with each other, their raging libidos which sometimes get ...Written by
Jay Leno, perhaps the most famous comedian on American television 12 years ago, in his monologue the night after the 2005 Oscars, said: "I was so happy this morning that I sang that really wonderful Oscar winning song while driving , ... "La-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la ... EL RIO! .....God, What GREAT Lyrics, eh?"
Be that as it may, Mr. Leno was right about one thing: "Al Otro Lado Del Rio", that song from Motorcycle Diaries really does have some exquisite lyrics! Obviously, Mr. Leno was also right about the focus of his joke. At least 98% of Gringos and non-Hispanics in the U.S.A. probably cannot appreciate nor understand much of these poetic lyrics. However, on the Richter scale of cultural impact, I would rate this event as something like an "8"!
There are almost six thousand actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, etc., who are members of The Academy of Arts and Sciences with the right to vote in all categories with nominations. The other Best Song Options available to them in 2005 were, "Accidentally in Love" from Shrek 2, "Believe" appearing in The Polar Express, "Learn to Be Lonely" from The Phantom of the Opera, and "Vois Sur Ton Chemin" a song in French from "Les Choristes".
Before the 2005 Oscars, I quite honestly did not have high hopes that "Rio" was going to win. Songs in English are always sure winners! Even throughout the entire history of the Oscars, there had never been a winning song in another language, except only once, and that happened sixty years ago: The very beautiful and romantic "Un Homme Et Une Femme" (1966) Which turned out to be the very First and ONLY time that the Golden Statuette was awarded to a song in French, or any other foreign language, for that matter! But between 1966 and 2005, there certainly was a lot of change!
Sure, for many people, the Oscar for a song in Spanish does not seem so important in and of itself, but taken in conjunction with a recent series of related events, there is a real feeling that there is a change in the trajectory of the American cultural river. Also, interestingly enough, for the first time, a Spanish-speaking actress, Colombian Catalina Sandino Moreno, was nominated in the category of Best Actress. Some years ago, the film SPANGLISH attempted to show us just how difficult it is to try to assimilate into mainstream culture, without losing much of their own Hispanic identity.
Fifty years ago, it would have been almost impossible for many Americans to name more than 2, 3 or 4 Latinos. Now we have Jennifer Lopez, Sophia Vergara, Shakira, Antonio Banderas, Marc Anthony, Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, Carlos Santana, Ricky Martin, Celia Cruz, Elizabeth Peña, Andy Garcia and John Leguizamo, among many others. With the selecting of "Al Otro Lado Del Rio", Hollywood seems to be telling the world, "The Spanish language also has an important place in the United States!"
Any comments, questions or observations, in English or Spanish, are welcome!
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