Both these definitions fit Walter Salles's film The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) perfectly. I can only imagine how much Che Guevara would have hated this cheesy, saccharine movie that presents him as a Christian saint / eunuch.
Gael Garcia Bernal who plays the young Ernesto Guevara is an extremely talented actor. However, he is the last person in the world who should have been cast as Che. Garcia Bernal has a non-macho masculinity that helped him give the performance of his life as a gay teenager in Y tu mama tambien. The first word that comes to my mind whenever I see Garcia Bernal is "sensitive." He is simply unsuited to play a super macho Che Guevara who raved in his diaries about the joys of never washing himself and developing a strong, manly stench.
Of course, like any good saint, Ernesto Guevara of The Motorcycle Diaries resists temptations and performs miracles. He guards his virtue fiercely, even though his best friend, played by the amazing Rodrigo de la Serna, tries to undermine his companion's chastity by offering an example of free and exuberant sexuality. Ernesto also walks on water and cures lepers with his touch in a scene whose Biblical motifs are so strong as to render the whole film unpalatable. The efforts of the creators of this movie to present Ernesto Guevara as an unblemished, sensitive, romantic character end up producing a cardboard figure without a shred of humanity.
In many ways, Che Guevara is a terrifying figure. A middle-class guy with a good education, he could have practiced medicine and lived comfortably in Argentina. Instead, he chose to become a guerrillero. This man, who'd been trained to cure people, enjoyed participating in executions of those who were branded as counter-revolutionaries. He was fascinated with filth in the most literal sense. Even when his revolution won in Cuba, Che demonstrated that he was one of those revolutionaries who were only happy fighting and destroying. His attempts to inscribe himself into the peaceful process of post-revolutionary rebuilding was a failure.
Movies like The Motorcycle Diaries and books like the one I blogged about earlier today serve the goal of taming the image of the incomprehensible and terrifying revolutionary, transforming him from a figure that threatens the society of consumers into a convenient object of consumption.