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Top Customer Reviews
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.
I've seen Viva Zapata a number of times and even discussed the film personally with Elia Kazan in New York City.
Tyrone Power was to portray Zapata (Zanuck fought Kazan on that issue and won) and, thank God, Brando took over the role when Power refused to sign an extension to his contract with Fox. He would have been miscast - most likely.
Then for the part of Josefa, Kazan wanted Julie Harris. Zanuck insisted that he hire Fox contract player Jean Peters. In this case Zanuck was right. Jean had played other latino girls and looked the part. Harris would have had to wear a black wig and hide her numerous freckles (the Irish in her would have been hard to cover up). Brando also liked Jean Peters better than Harris, but for other reasons; he had intentions to romance the actress - although her chaotic encounter with his pet racoon who bit her in the rib-cage during the filming, dowsed all his efforts to bed her. At any rate, Peters was a good choice in the end. Despite Kazan's worries that she wouldn't be believable, she is first rate in this flick and has two great scenes (the one in the church in which she threatens Brando with her hair pin and the one where she teaches him to read on their honeymoon bed) - plus, of course, her final scene in the movie, in which she becomes hysterical and is outstanding.
Anthony Quinn got an Oscar for this one, and well deserved. Kazan, Brando and Peters would have probaly won recognition as well if it weren't for the fact that Kazan was called by HUAC (the MacCarthy witch hunt of the 40's and 50's) and had decided "to name names" to the investigating committee - that made him an unpopular figure in Hollywood and the film was ignored (and Brando became quite cool towards his favorite director after that).Read more ›
When writing the screenplay, John Steinbeck took several liberties with these and other historical facts to serve the interests of the film's narrative. Nonetheless, I am fascinated by Brando's portrayal of Zapata and intrigued by Kazan's association with a film so unrelated to his work on stage and film before or since. There are several memorable moments. My personal favorites are when the captured Zapata is led through the countryside by captors who eventually release him (for reasons best revealed in the film), when he later approaches Josefa Espejo (Jean Peters) and her family during a church service, and later when he is gunned down in a village square. The supporting cast is first-rate.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I have enjoyed this movie since it was first released and still do, this blue ray copy was not what I expected as the sound was a true 5.1 but still enjoyed it.Published on Dec 11 2013 by Jim Turner
Classic western, Marlon Brando is very good as title character and Anthony Quinn is even better (he won best supporting actor Oscar). Don't miss this one.Published on July 31 2013 by Donylo
DVD of "Viva Zapata" - a Hollywood film made in the 1950s starrting Marlon Brando.
They sent - to an address in North America - a DVD that will work only in a European... Read more
This is a CD of the movie soundtrack and all that are posted below are movie reviews.Published on June 18 2004
Certainly this stands as an example of a movie that improves with time, getting more relevant with each passing year. Read morePublished on Sept. 27 2001 by inframan
I really enjoyed this film directed by Elia Kazan with a screenplay by John Steinbeck (his only credited screenplay). Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2001 by Frank Gibbons
A great film directed by Elia Kazan, written by John Steinbeck and scored by Alex North. These are the ingredients of a great film. Brando plays the brooding Zapata in fine style. Read morePublished on June 13 2001 by charles pope
An excellent movie depicting the pulsating rise of the Mexican Revolution as seen through the eyes of the proletariat who fought for life, libery and land. Read morePublished on June 8 2001 by Robyn Medina Winnett