Although some scenes were re-enacted after the fact, this is a real documentary on the struggle of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa to overthrow dictator Porfirio Díaz . Directors Christy Cabanne and Raoul Walsh took a camera crew to Mexico during the Mexican Revolution of 1912 and traveled with Villa, filming footage of his army on the march and engaged in battle with federal troops (director Walsh confirmed in an interview the long-rumored story that Villa insisted on the filming of execution by firing squad of several dozen federal prisoners, but that when he returned to Hollywood the studio thought the footage too grisly and cut it out). Written by
Did You Know?
While filming a battle between Pancho Villa
's rebel forces and federal troops near Ojinaga, cameraman Charles Rosher
was captured by government soldiers and brought before their commanding general. Rosher thought he was about to be executed as a spy, and things didn't look too good for him until the Mexican general noticed Rosher's Masonic pin in his lapel. The general then gave Rosher the Masonic greeting; it turned out he was a Mason, too. Instead of being shot as a spy, Rosher was treated as a guest, and was later released after the Mexican government made a deal with the American government that allowed its troops to cross through American territory in order to outflank Villa's forces and attack them from the rear. See more