The Motorcycle Diaries is about two men named Ernesto Guevara and Alberto Granado. Ernesto is played by Gael Garcia Bernal and Alberto is played by Rodrigo De la Serna. The men are two well to do college students studying biology and various disciplines in medicine. They decide that they are going to get on a motorcycle and see South America as they make their way to their newest studies and take in the sights and meet the people as they make their way. Along the way they make many friends but they also see a lot of poverty and suffering that begins to take an effect on Ernesto. They wind up in a leper colony and they offer their services as medical assistants for 3 weeks to help those that tend to the lepers. As time goes by they become good friends with not only the medical staff at the leper colony but also the lepers themselves. The feeling of shame forced upon these people by the outside world along with the feeling of physical pain that comes with their condition has a profound effect on both boys. In the end they wind up taking different paths in life and Ernesto strays away from medical studies and gets directly involved in what he sees as the real way to free people from their suffering, revolution.
Ernesto Guevara winds up becoming Che Guevara who winds up being known as one of the foremost revolutionaries in the modern world. He helps Fidel Castro win his communist revolution in Cuba and attempts to spread communism all over the world through violent revolution. In 1967 he was captured and executed in Bolivia after a failed attempt at revolution in that country. But in The Motorcycle Diaries you can begin to see the transformation of Che Guevara from medical student to violent revolutionary. It all becomes very real when you remember that The Motorcycle Diaries was co-written by Che Guevara himself.