Viva Zapata!

Last updated
Viva Zapata!
Viva Zapata!.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Elia Kazan
Written by John Steinbeck
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Starring Marlon Brando
Jean Peters
Anthony Quinn
Cinematography Joseph MacDonald
Edited by Barbara McLean
Music by Alex North
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • February 7, 1952 (1952-02-07)(United States)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1.8 million [1]
Box office$1,900,000 (US rentals) [2]

Viva Zapata! is a 1952 biographical film directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando. The screenplay was written by John Steinbeck, using Edgcomb Pinchon's 1941 book Zapata the Unconquerable as a guide. The cast includes Jean Peters and, in an Academy Award-winning performance, Anthony Quinn.

Contents

The film is a fictionalized account of the life of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata from his peasant upbringing, through his rise to power in the early 1900s, to his death.

To make the film as authentic as possible, Kazan and producer Darryl F. Zanuck studied the numerous photographs that were taken during the revolutionary years, the period between 1909 and 1919 when Zapata led the fight to restore land taken from common people during the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz.

Kazan was especially impressed with the Agustín Casasola collection of photographs and he attempted to duplicate their visual style in the film. Kazan also acknowledged the influence of Roberto Rossellini's Paisan (1946). [3]

Plot

Emiliano Zapata (Brando) is part of a delegation sent to complain about injustices to corrupt longtime President Porfirio Díaz (Fay Roope), but Díaz dismisses their concerns, driving Zapata to open rebellion, along with his brother Eufemio (Quinn). He in the south and Pancho Villa (Alan Reed) in the north unite under the leadership of naive reformer Francisco Madero (Harold Gordon).

Díaz is finally toppled and Madero takes his place, but Zapata is dismayed to find that nothing is changing. Madero offers Zapata land of his own while failing to take action to distribute land to the campesinos who fought to end the dictatorship and break up the estates of the elites. Zapata rejects the offer and seeks no personal gain. Meanwhile, the ineffectual but well-meaning Madero puts his trust in treacherous General Victoriano Huerta (Frank Silvera). Huerta first takes Madero captive and then has him murdered.

Steinbeck meditates in the film on the tempting military force and political might, which corrupts men. As it becomes clear that each new regime is no less corrupt and self-serving than the one it replaced, Zapata remains guided by his desire to return the peasants their recently robbed lands, while forsaking his personal interests. His own brother sets himself up as a petty dictator, taking what he wants without regard for the law, but Zapata remains a rebel leader of high integrity. Although he is able to defeat Huerta after Madero's assassination, as a result of his integrity, Zapata loses his brother, and his position.

Although in the end Zapata himself is lured into an ambush and killed, the film suggests that the resistance of the campesinos does not end. Rumors begin that Zapata never died, but is instead continuing to fight from the hills, feeding the campesinos a sense of hope. As several scenes suggest, over the years, the campesinos have learned to lead themselves rather than look to others to lead them.

Cast

Production

Marlon Brando screenshot as Zapata Viva Zapata movie trailer screenshot (12).jpg
Marlon Brando screenshot as Zapata

Filming and casting

Filming took place in locations including Durango, Colorado; Roma, Texas, San Ignacio, Texas in Zapata County; and New Mexico.

The film tends to romanticize Zapata and in doing so may distort the true nature of the Mexican Revolution. Zapata fought to free the land for the peasants of Morelos and the other southern Mexican states. Additionally, the movie inaccurately portrays Zapata as illiterate. In reality, he grew up in a family with some land and money and received an education. John Steinbeck wrote a book titled Zapata. [4] The original screenplay was written by the author and the book contains a newly found introduction by Steinbeck, the original proposed screenplay, and the official movie script.

Barbara Leaming writes in her biography of Marilyn Monroe that the actress tried and failed to obtain a part in this picture, presumably due to Darryl F. Zanuck's lack of faith in her ability, both as an actress and as a box office draw.[ citation needed ] 

Reception

Viva Zapata! received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that of 18 reviews, 61% of critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.2/10. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times gave a highly favorable review and commented that the film "throbs with a rare vitality, and a masterful picture of a nation in revolutionary torment has been got by Director Elia Kazan." [5] Variety , however, criticized the direction and script: "Elia Kazan's direction strives for a personal intimacy but neither he nor the John Steinbeck scripting achieves in enough measure." Senator John McCain listed Viva Zapata! as his favorite film of all time. [6]

Awards and nominations

AwardCategoryNominee(s)ResultRef.
Academy Awards Best Actor Marlon Brando Nominated [7]
Best Supporting Actor Anthony Quinn Won
Best Story and Screenplay John Steinbeck Nominated
Best Art Direction – Black-and-White Lyle R. Wheeler, Leland Fuller, Thomas Little and Claude E. Carpenter Nominated
Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture Alex North Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Film from any Source Nominated [8]
Best Foreign Actor Marlon BrandoWon
Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix Elia Kazan Nominated [9]
Best Actor Marlon BrandoWon
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Elia KazanNominated [10]
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Mildred Dunnock Nominated [11]
International Film Music Critics Association Awards Best New Recording of a Previously Existing Score Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith and Royal Scottish National Orchestra Nominated [12]

Honors

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Related Research Articles

Francisco I. Madero Mexican revolutionary leader and 37th President (1911-13)

Francisco Ignacio Madero González was a Mexican revolutionary, writer and statesman who served as the 37th president of Mexico from 1911 until shortly before his assassination in 1913. A wealthy landowner, he was nonetheless an advocate for social justice and democracy. Madero was notable for challenging long-time President Porfirio Díaz for the presidency in 1910 and being instrumental in sparking the Mexican Revolution.

<i>Viva Villa!</i> 1934 film by Howard Hawks, John Waters, Jack Conway, William A. Wellman

Viva Villa! is a 1934 American pre-Code film directed by Jack Conway and starring Wallace Beery as Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. The screenplay was written by Ben Hecht, adapted from the 1933 book Viva Villa! by Edgecumb Pinchon and O. B. Stade. The film was shot on location in Mexico and produced by David O. Selznick. There was uncredited assistance with the script by Howard Hawks, James Kevin McGuinness, and Howard Emmett Rogers. Hawks and William A. Wellman were also uncredited directors on the film.

Emiliano Zapata Mexican revolutionary

Emiliano Zapata Salazar became a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920, the main leader of the people's revolution in the Mexican state of Morelos, and the inspiration of the agrarian movement called Zapatismo.

Mexican Revolution major nationwide armed struggle in Mexico between 1910 and 1920

The Mexican Revolution was a major revolution that included a sequence of armed struggles that transformed Mexican culture and government. The outbreak of the revolution in 1910 resulted from the increasing unpopularity of the 31-year regime of Porfirio Díaz and the regime's failure to find a controlled solution to the issue of presidential succession. That resulted in a power struggle among competing elites, which provided the opportunity for agrarian insurrection. The wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election and, following rigged election that Díaz won, Madero called for a revolt 1910 in his October Plan of San Luis Potosí.

Victoriano Huerta Mexican military officer and 39th President of Mexico (Feb 1913 - July 1914)

José Victoriano Huerta Márquez was a Mexican military officer and 39th President of Mexico, who came to power by coup.

<i>Zapata: El sueño del héroe</i> 2004 Mexican film

Zapata: El sueño del héroe, also titled simply Zapata, is a 2004 Mexican film.

Eufemio Zapata

Eufemio Zapata Salazar was a participant in the Mexican Revolution and the brother of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. He was known as a womanizer, a macho man, and a very heavy drinker.

Plan of Ayala

The Plan of Ayala was a document drafted by revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata during the Mexican Revolution. In it, Zapata denounced President Francisco I. Madero for his perceived betrayal of the revolutionary ideals, embodied in Madero's Plan de San Luis Potosí, and set out his vision of land reform. The Plan was first proclaimed on November 28, 1911 in the town of Ayala, Morelos, and was later amended on June 19, 1914. John Womack calls the Plan the Zapatistas' "Sacred Scripture".

Liberation Army of the South Armed group during the Mexican Revolution

The Liberation Army of the South was a guerrilla force led for most of its existence by Emiliano Zapata that took part in the Mexican Revolution from 1911 to 1920. During that time, the Zapatistas fought against the national governments of Porfirio Díaz, Francisco Madero, Victoriano Huerta, and Venustiano Carranza. Their goal was rural land reform, specifically reclaiming communal lands stolen by hacendados in the period before the revolution. Although rarely active outside their base in Morelos, they allied with Pancho Villa to support the Conventionists against the Carrancistas. After Villa's defeat, the Zapatistas remained in open rebellion. It was only after Zapata's 1919 assassination and the overthrow of the Carranza government that Zapata's successor, Gildardo Magaña, negotiated peace with President Álvaro Obregón.

Genovevo de la O

Genovevo de la O was an important figure in the Mexican Revolution in Morelos.

Federal Army Military unit

The Mexican Federal Army, also known as the Federales in popular culture, was the military of the Mexican state during the Porfiriato, the long rule of President Porfirio Díaz, and until 1914. Under President Díaz, a military hero against the French Intervention in Mexico, the Federal Army was composed of senior officers who had served in long ago conflicts. At the time of the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution most were old men and incapable of leading men on the battlefield. When the rebellions broke out against Díaz following fraudulent elections of 1910, the Federal Army was incapable of responding. Although revolutionary fighters helped bring Francisco I. Madero to power, Madero retained the Federal Army rather than the revolutionaries. Madero used the Federal Army to suppress rebellions against his government by Pascual Orozco and Emiliano Zapata. Madero placed General Victoriano Huerta as interim commander of the military during the Ten Tragic Days of February 1913 to defend his government. Huerta changed sides and ousted Madero's government. Rebellions broke out against Huerta's regime. When revolutionary armies succeeded in ousting Huerta in July 1914, the Federal Army ceased to exist as an entity.

Juan Andreu Almazán

Juan Andreu Almazán was a Mexican revolutionary general, politician and businessman. He held high posts in the Mexican Army in the 1920s and ran for the presidency of Mexico in 1940 in a highly disputed election, having accumulated great wealth from construction. General Almazán became one of Mexico's wealthiest citizens in the early 1940s.

Amador Salazar

Amador Salazar Jiménez was a Mexican military leader who participated in the Mexican Revolution.

Treaty of Ciudad Juárez 1911 treaty during the Mexican Revolution

The Treaty of Ciudad Juárez was a peace treaty signed between the President of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz, and the revolutionary Francisco Madero on May 21, 1911. The treaty put an end to the fighting between forces supporting Madero and those of Díaz and thus concluded the initial phase of the Mexican Revolution.

Battle of Cuautla (1911)

The Battle of Cuautla was a battle between the forces of Emiliano Zapata and the federal army of the Mexican government that took place in the state of Morelos from May 11–19, 1911, during the Mexican Revolution. It has sometimes been described as "six of the most terrible days of battle in the whole Revolution". Eventually, the remains of the defending "Golden Fifth" regiment, the Fifth Cavalry Regiment of the Federal Army, withdrew and Zapata took control of the town. The Zapatista victory convinced Porfirio Díaz to come to terms with Francisco Madero, agree to the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez and resign as president.

Otilio Montaño Sánchez

Otilio Montaño Sánchez was a Zapatista general during the Mexican Revolution.

Pablo González Garza

Pablo González Garza was a Mexican General during the Mexican Revolution. He is considered to be the main organizer of the assassination of Emiliano Zapata.

Jesús Salgado

Jesús Salgado was a revolutionary leader and soldier in the Mexican Revolution, sometimes called the "Guerrero Zapata". He initially supported Francisco Madero but in 1911 threw his support behind Emiliano Zapata and remained loyal to the Zapatista cause until his death in 1919.

Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama

Antonio Diaz Soto y Gama was a revolutionary during the Mexican Revolution and Mexican politician.

References

  1. Solomon, Aubrey (January 1, 1988). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History . Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 247. ISBN   978-0-8108-4244-1.
  2. 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
  3. Thomas, Tony (November 6, 1975). The Films of Marlon Brando (second ed.). Citidel Press. p.  47. ISBN   978-0806504810.
  4. https://smile.amazon.com/Zapata-John-Steinbeck/dp/0140173226/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1538850622&sr=8-16&keywords=Zapata
  5. Crowther, Bosley (February 8, 1952). "THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; Marlon Brando Plays Mexican Rebel Leader in 'Viva Zapata!' New Feature at the Rivoli" . The New York Times.
  6. McCain, John. "FAQ - United States Senator John McCain". www.mccain.senate.gov.
  7. "The 25th Academy Awards (1953) Nominees and Winners". Oscars.org (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
  8. "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1953". BAFTA . 1953. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  9. "Festival de Cannes: Viva Zapata!". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  10. "5th DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America Awards . Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  11. "Viva Zapata! – Golden Globes". HFPA . Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  12. IFMCA (1999). "1998 FMCJ Awards". IFMCA. IFMCA. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  13. "AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-06.