Directed by Elia Kazan
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by Elia Kazan, Viva Zapata! stars a young Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn in an strangely less well-known film about the famous Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. Zapata, along with Pancho Villa, was one of the most successful generals of the Mexican revolution and rallied Southern guerillas in the fight for the redistribution of land against dictator Porfirio Díaz. An enjoyably heroic biopic loosely based (although never credited as such) on Edgcomb Pinchon's book Zapata the Unconquerable, it's written by Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck who was economical with the truth in favour of a more fictional and wayward version of events. Likewise, Kazan chose to use, rather bizarrely, a Mexican-free cast. Zapata is played by Brando with eyelids taped-up and portrayed as an illiterate peasant although, in reality, he came from a family with land and had received an education. It charts his rise during the second decade of the 20th century, from such humble beginnings to presidential power and eventual assassination in 1919. Prior to making the film, which was shot in Colorado, Texas and New Mexico, Kazan and his producer studied a wealth of photographs, in particular those of Agustin Casasola, and this influence is palpably evident in Viva Zapata!'s striking visual style. Made at a time of anti-Communist hysteria in Hollywood, by a formerly Communist director, it's a marvel it was ever produced and although a romanticisation of this revolutionary figure, it's a stunning and cautionary tale about the corruption that always resides with power.
Reservation is not necessary, but places are limited. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.