Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa (Antonio Banderas) finds himself without adequate funding to finance his war against the military-run government. He also finds himself at odds with the Americans because of the Hearst media empire's press campaign against him. To counter both of these, he sends emissaries to movie producers to convince them to pay to film his progress and the actual battles. Producer D.W. Griffith (Colm Feore) becomes interested and sends Frank Thayer (Eion Bailey) with a film crew to develop film reels. Thayer becomes horrified and fascinated by the bandit. He finds an enigmatic individual that is both ghoulishly brutal and charmingly captivating. The resulting film became the first feature length movie, introducing scores of Americans to the true horrors of war that they had never personally seen. Thayer sold the studios on making the film despite their concerns that no one would sit through a movie longer than 1 hour by convincing them that they could raise the ... Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the battle of Torreon, after Villa's troops retreat, and the Federales stand down, one of the scenes has obviously flipped (reversed) film. The Mauser rifle that the soldier is staring down is shown from the right side, but it is in fact the left side of the weapon. See more »
On a Tree by a River a Little Tom Tit
from "The Mikado"
Written by William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
Performed by John Reed, the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra and D'Oyey Carte Opera Company
Courtesy of Decca Music Group Limited See more »
As the blurb puts it - a story so improbable.....it must be true.... Set during the Mexican revolution of 1914 its the story of revolutionary hero Pancho Villa and his rather shrewd manipulation of the media - the Mutual Film Company led by the ever marvellous Jim Broadbent are contacted by Villa and offered to film the struggle.Star director DW Griffiths thinks its a great idea and Broadbent's nephew Frank Thayer(Eion Bailey) is dispatched south of the border with a bag containing $25 000 in gold as payment.Villa(Antonio Banderas) soon has them filming during actual battles and inspiring Frank with his dreams of a free Mexico. They return with the film but its fairly amateurish and gets laughed off screen - Frank somehow persuades his uncle to part with even more money and this time use actors like Raoul Walsh to play Villa and add some artistic licence to proceedings. There follows a very funny scene where Boradbent gets Villa to agree to only fight during the day(when they can film) and if they miss any battles to re-enact them for the cameras - Villa is appalled at the liberties taken with his lifes story but Frank explains its what the audience wants to see and will help his cause no end - something he needs as William Randolph Hearst's press empire is starting a campaign to get the US to invade Mexico to protect America's lifeblood - Oil.
Its a great little movie - made by HBO its a TV movie but Bruce Beresford directs as if its for the big screen - epic adventure,lavish battles and romance all intermingle to great effect - Banderas is excellent as Villa - a bit of a ham who is far more savvy than he lets on - the scene where he plays himself as the aged El Presidente is priceless - it doesn't shy away from the cruelties of both sides either
in fact this cruelty is what finally drives the friendship between
Frank and Villa apart - although the way its used in the final film is a more than ironic touch. Fine support from Broadbent and Alan Arkin as a machine-gunning Brooklyn Jew add to the rounded cast and its picked up a really good reputation on DVD and its easy to see why......
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