TRAILERS & CLIPS
Viva Zapata! is a Hollywood biography of the passionate Mexican revolutionist Emiliano Zapata (Marlon Brando).
During the early 1900’s, Zapata stood up to the injustices done to the peasant farmers and indigenous people of Mexico, who were slaughtered whilst defending their farm land against the corrupted President Diaz. His 34 year iron grip rule ended after Zapata and others rebelled against him.
In turn the leftist liberator Francisco Idalecio Medero (Harold Gordon) was placed in power, yet his reign was short lived, thanks to the Machiavellian Fernando Aguirre (played brilliantly by Joseph Wiseman), who planned to create a totalitarian system under his control, unawares to Zapata and his comrades.
With this fascinating piece of political history, director Elia Kazan places an interesting and honest spotlight upon politics, which proves that left wing liberators are just as dangerous as the right wing fascists they have overpowered, and vice versa.
Although the majority of its actors are not of Latino descent, they seep into their characters very well without resorting to caricature. This is due to Kazan’s insistence upon authenticity, with the films shooting locations of Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas no doubt having effect on his actors, especially method man Marlon Brando, who brings on all the necessary qualities needed to play the fervent Zapata, and Anthony Quinn who is simply magnetic as Zapata’s brother Eufimio.
Although Viva Zapata! was a violent film for its time, its also contains a keen sense of humour which does not diminish the films serious tone, but rather lends humanity during a time of never ending civil war and political corruption. A scene where Zapata tries to win the hand of his soon to be bride Josefa (Jean Peters) is very funny, as is Zapata’s constant lamenting over the loss of his favourite horse which he gave away to a brave young soul who fought for their cause.
A very good yet just shy of being great film, Viva Zapata! may be a glossed up version of Mexican history, yet is a good place to start for a layman on the subject.