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Viva Zapata! (1952)

The story of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, who led a rebellion against the corrupt, oppressive dictatorship of president Porfirio Diaz in the early 20th century.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Zapata
... Josefa
... Eufemio
... Fernando
... Don Nacio
... Pancho Villa
... Soldadera
Harold Gordon ... Madero
Lou Gilbert ... Pablo
... Huerta
Florenz Ames ... Senor Espejo
... Old General
Fay Roope ... Diaz
... Senora Espejo
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Storyline

In 1909, Emiliano Zapata, a well-born but penniless Mexican Mestizo from the southern state of Morelos, comes to Mexico City to complain that their arable land has been enclosed, leaving them only in the barren hills. His expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the President Diaz puts him in danger, and when he rashly rescues a prisoner from the local militia he becomes an outlaw. Urged on by a strolling intellectual, Fernando, he supports the exiled Don Francisco Madero against Diaz, and becomes the leader of his forces in the South as Francisco 'Pancho' Villa is in the North. Diaz flees, and Madero takes his place; but he is a puppet president, in the hands of the leader of the army, Huerta, who has him assassinated when he tries to express solidarity for the men who fought for him. Zapata and Villa return to arms, and, successful in victory, seek to find a leader for the country. Unwillingly, Zapata takes the job, but, a while later, he responds to some petitioners from his ... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A BANDIT WHO BECAME A LEGEND!...Roaring Story of Mexico's Tiger on a White Horse!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

22 August 1952 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Beloved Tiger  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Elia Kazan's autobiography "A Life" (1988), John Steinbeck would whittle while they sat in the wood shop of Steinbeck's New York townhouse writing the script. The two developed a deep and enduring friendship during the project. See more »

Goofs

Emiliano Zapata's 'dead body' is heavily breathing and changes positions between different shots. See more »

Quotes

Eufemio: I love you, but I do not like you.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Mexico-1909

A delegation of Indians from the State of Morelos have come to the Capital for an audience with their President, Porfirio Diaz. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Guilty by Suspicion (1991) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
America's Favorite Foreign Revolution?
19 December 2005 | by See all my reviews

The history of Mexico, our southern neighbor (and sometimes victim) is better known to American movie goers than the history of most countries.

You begin with the Maya (KINGS OF THE SUN), the conquest of Mexico (THE CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE), then to the founding of Father Serra's missions in California (SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD), and then the Spanish in the southwest and California (THE MARK OF ZORRO). Mexican - American history begins with the Texas War for Independence (THE ALAMO, THE LAST TEXAN, etc.). We skip to the French "intervention": JUAREZ and VERA CRUZ. Then we tend to skip the long reign of Porfirio Diaz.

Then comes the Mexican Revolution. The number of films that deal with the revolution is vast. But here are just a few titles: VIVA ZAPATA, VIVA VILLA, VILLA RIDES, THE OLD GRINGO (about Ambrose Bierce's probable death in Mexico's revolution), VIVA MARIA (a spoof but it touches on some issues), THE THREE AMIGOS, THEY CAME TO CORDURA (regarding the American Intervention under General Pershing in 1916), THE FUGITIVE (dealing with the anti-Catholic policies of the 1920s and 1930s), and even THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRES (when you see the business with Alfonso Badoya's bandit gang against the Federales).

The Mexican Revolution had many heroes. Many were heroes for one group but devils to another. Madero and Carranza stressed the need to have a nation that was loyal to a written constitution. Zapata would be one of the leaders of the land reform movement. Starting with Francisco Madero, going through Pancho Villa and Eufremio Zapata, going to their enemy Venusiano Carranza, to Obregon, Calles, and the great land reformer Lazaro Cardenas - the leadership was varied. The largest concentration of films is on the colorful (and murderous) Villa (a recent cable television movie was about Villa and his contract with D. W. Griffith to shoot a movie, AND STARRING PANCHO VILLA). But historians usually feel that while Villa tended to be on the side of the peasants, he had too much of the bandit in him to be a leader of the revolution's reforms. Zapata, on the other hand actually tried to reform the division of land. His work never got as far as he wanted before he was assassinated, but it was burned into the souls of the people from his region of Mexico (who still call themselves Zapatistas when involved in political protests to this day), and it did help set the stage for Cardenas' reforms in the late 1930s.

With direction by Elia Kazan and screenplay by John Steinbeck, VIVA ZAPATA is a wonderful, if simplistic view of the Revolution for American audiences. Brando underplays the lead for the most part - Zapata was not an explosive personality like Villa. Anthony Quinn is the explosive brother, whose more selfish attitudes leads to his own disaster. Of the supporting players, Alan Reed is good in his scene as Villa, where he discusses the future of Mexico with Zapata. Joseph Wiseman is properly sinister as an constant malcontent agent provocateur, insinuating each leader is too weak or unreliable to lead.

There are great set pieces - like Kazan's symbolic assassination of Madero by General Huerta's goons who drown out the little reformer/orator's voice as he tries to scream with a siren (but it makes the screams of the unheard martyr like a clarion call to Mexico).

Is it real Mexican history? Not quite - it is a version of it. But it is a really well done version of it.


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