In 1909, Emiliano Zapata, a well-born but penniless Mexican Indian from a remote province, 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 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… —IMDb
Kazan was born Elias Kazancoglu in Istanbul to a Greek father from Kayseri, Turkey and a Greek mother from Istanbul, where her family were cotton merchants who imported cotton from Manchester, England, and sold it wholesale in Istanbul to various merchants, both Greek and Turkish, who took the goods out to the provinces. His family emigrated to the United States in 1913 and settled in New York City, where his father, George Kazanjoglu, became a rug merchant. Kazan’s father expected that his son would go into the family business, but his mother, Athena (née Sismanoglou), encouraged Kazan to make his own decisions. His family name ‘Kazanjoglou’ (an alternate spelling is Kazantzoglou) is Turkish, meaning “The son of a cauldron maker”, where the root word ‘kazan’ means cauldron or boiler. It was and still is common to find people of Greek, Jewish, Assyrian, Armenian, and Kurdish lineage with Turkish family names or where the root words in the names are uniquely Turkish.
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Though the screenplay "missed" something and didn't give more of a personal connection to the material this solid film has admirable direction by Kazan and performances by Brando and Quinn.
Brando and his fake lashes , a young and slim Anthony Quinn, Jean Peters as a Mexican girl (tough job) and Alan Reed as Pancho Villa (easy job). Politics corrupts and noble ideas lead to terror. Zapata's death, minced by dozens of bullets. Masterpiece.
Biopic directed by Elia Kazan, with an original screenplay by John Steinbeck, is unfortunately underwhelming. It has a number of strong moments, but as a whole is a rather turgid and heavy-handed melodrama, with uneven performances from its much lauded cast. Not a bad film, really, but a disappointment considering the talent involved. Great score by Alex North.
No es ninguna obra maestra, por supuesto, pero vale la pena ver esta cinta por lo divertido que resulta el percatarse de la infinidad de baches e inexactitudes historicas que se presentan, pero principalmente, por el tono critico y la ironia manejada sobre el asunto. Sobra decirlo, pero resulta mucho mas eficaz la solida presencia de un Marlon Brando como Zapata, que la puteria a flor de piel de Alejandro Fernandez.