"If you leave today, your enemies will be here tomorrow."
- Fernando Aguirre (JOSEPH WISEMAN) to Emiliano Zapata (MARLON BRANDO)
Academy Awards 1952 -
Best Supporting Actor: Anthony Quinn
Cannes 1952 -
Best Actor: Marlon Brando
Uncut - 08/01/2005
"Elia Kazan's first masterpiece looks like something by Eisenstein....Beautifully filmed..."
Set in the early 1900's, "Viva Zapata!" tells the story of Mexican rebel Emiliano Zapata, who rallies the countryside against the government and eventually assumes the role of President. John Steinbeck wrote the film's screenplay. Academy Award Nominations: 5, including Best Actor--Marlon Brando, Best Story & Screenplay. Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor--Anthony Quinn.
Branded an outlaw after helping Mexican peasants reclaim their stolen land, Emiliano Zapata (Brando) retreats into the mountains with his brother Eufemio (Quinn). Then Zapata's love interest takes priority over his revolutionary activities, as he courts Josefa, who refuses his offer of marriage because he's poor and lacks standing in the community. When he rises to the rank of general, she deems him a worthy suitor and they marry. Later Zapata becomes president, but by then, he's greatly disillusioned and ends up being used as a political pawn. Director Kazan captures the excitement of revolution and Brando is at his finest as the revolutionary leader.
Period Piece |
Theatrical Release |
The Mexican government refused to allow this film to be shot there because it objected to the Hollywood depiction of its nation. It was filmed in Texas instead.
In 1951-52, director Elia Kazan testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He initially took a stance in favor of intellectual freedom. A former Communist Party member himself, Kazan changed his mind later and 'named names' for HUAC in April 1952. He remarked that his films had an even greater left-wing bias despite the political pressures of the committee.
Kazan identified with the revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. He commented that "the figure of Zapata was particularly attractive to me... He felt about things as I was beginning to feel about my own situation. So all these three things -- the fact that he was extremely colorful and interesting, the fact that he represented a left position that was anti-authoritarian, and the fact that in some way he related to my life story, at that point in my life -- were reasons why I became so interested in the subject."
The score composer, Alex North, studied music in Mexico as a young man.
Additional cast: Harold Gordon (Madero), Nina Varela (Aunt), Florenz Ames (Seņor Espejo), Bernie Gozier (Zapatista), Pedro Regas (Innocente), Richard Garrick (Old General), Fay Roope (Diaz), Leonard George (Husband), Will Kuluva (Lazaro).