Actually it was this film that triggered my interest on the Mexican Revolution. I've seen it many times and always found new details to take into account. As I read more and more on the subject my appreciation of this movie increases.
It presents the viewer with a big fresco of the Revolution that convulsed that country for more than ten years.
I admire the strange capacity of the film to show condensed in each scene, many key issues of why and how the Revolution exploded and continue growing along the years, with an immitigable fire.
The first shot, showing a very accurate characterization of President Porfirio Diaz (Fay Roope), gives an inkling of the type of ruler he was. Francisco Madero's (Harold Gordon) personality and idealistic naïveté is also depicted with very few strokes. Huerta's (Frank Silvera) wickedness and treachery too. Above all Emiliano Zapata's figure impersonated by an inspired Marlon Brando stands with an epic height. His ideals, stubbornness, charisma and internal sorrows leading him to the final sacrifice, are shown convincingly. A special mention must be done of Anthony Quinn's superb performance, that entitled him to win the Oscar. He not only has the physique du role, but an internal conviction to give flesh to Eufemio, Zapata's brother, a semi cultured and brave centaur, product of his times and environment. Josefa (Jean Peters) the fiancée and later wife of Emiliano shows all the traits of a high middle class woman romantically requested by a rural hero. The scene played with Brando in the church's atrium is wonderful. The only character that gives a discordant note is the fictional Fernando, representing an addict to revolution for revolution in itself.
The black and white photography is very beautiful. Steinbeck's screenplay has a solid internal coherence that shows along the film.
A Classic not diminished by the more than fifty years passed.