1998; Rated PG-13; 136 Min.
Antonio Banderas: Alejandro Murrieta
Anthony Hopkins: Don Diego de la Vega
Catherine Zeta-Jones: Elena
Stuart Wilson: Don Rafael Montero
Matthew Letscher: Captain Harrison Love
Maury Chaykin: Prison Warden
Tony Amendola: Don Luiz
Pedro Armendáriz Jr.: Don Pedro
L.Q. Jones: Three-Fingered Jack
William Marquez: Fray Felipe
José Pérez: Corporal Armando Garcia
Victor Rivers: Joaquin Murrietta
Produced by Doug
Claybourne, David Foster, John Gertz, Laurie MacDonald,
Tava R. Maloy, Walter F. Parkes and Steven Spielberg; Directed
by Martin Campbell; Screenwritten by Randall
Jahnson, John Eskow, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, David S.
by DAVID KEYES
Mask Of Zorro" begins with scenes depicted in the life of
Don Diego de la Vega, played by Anthony Hopkins, to whom
most of his followers recognize as the legendary "Zorro,"
a man they cheer on as the outlaw for the people. He swings
on ropes across the crowd, rescues innocent bystanders on
an execution block, and rides his noble horse to the top
of a stairway in the city, where the crowd roars in applause
as he is silhouetted in the sunlight. He then sets off,
leaving behind a silver chain with multiple circles on it
as a momento to a young boy and his brother.
are among the most spectacular shots ever captured in film.
Not only do they appropriately setup the masterpiece movie
that follows, but they also demonstrate the free-flowing
camera shots that can be tackled within some of the most
wonderful films ever made, most recently including "Boogie
Nights" and "GoodFellas."
we learn of the movie's purpose. It begins solely about
de la Vega, who, after vowing to hang his Zorro mask up
after years of being a hidden outlaw, suddenly loses everything
he has to his archenemy Don Rafael Montero, who quickly
learns of de la Vega's secret guise, and has him arrested
and taken off into the night. Rafael takes Diego's infant
daughter, along with the guilt of killing Diego's wife in
front of his own eyes.
later, after Spain has banished Rafael from their court,
he returns to southern California, from where the Zorro
legend was last seen. There, he supposedly learns that Diego
had died in a jail cell, and that all of his past secrets
are kept safe from Elena, Diego's true daughter, who has
blossomed into Rafael's. But then we learn Diego is indeed
alive, and has escaped from the prison from which he has
remained for twenty years. Now, Diego has nothing; his wife,
his child, his horse, and his home have all been taken from
him, and he is just simply too old to masquerade as Zorro
scene: we meet Alejandro Murrieta and his brother, who are
wanted criminals. When they are brought to the justice system
by a fellow henchman who keeps his true relationship with
the brothers a secret, they take down the soldiers and make
off with the reward money. Halfway down the road, from where
the brothers strung up the soldiers nude to a row of cactuses,
they are confronted by a well-prepared group of soldiers
who, in the end, kill Alejandro's brother, shoot the third
henchman, and steel away from Alejandro everything he has
left. When the leader of the soldier horde cuts of Alejandro's
brother's head, they leave behind the all-familiar silver
momento that Zorro gave two younger children when he was
last seen twenty years ago.
goes off into town and meets Diego, who is now old, crippled,
and rather mysterious-looking. Diego sees the chain around
Alejandro's neck, and instantly leaps to the man wearing
it, claiming in memorable words "When the pupil is ready,
the master will appear."
trains Alejandro to take on the role of Zorro, who is needed
after Don Rafael returns to California in attempts to buy
it away from Mexico, secretly using gold dug up from the
Mexican lands, and then destroying the mines and all of
their slaves to cover up the evidence of such occurrences.
Alejandro sets off in the Zorro guise, he meets Diego's
daughter, Elena, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is
enthralled with the masked outlaw to the point where it
is nearly love at first site. She confesses breaking the
fourth commandment to the church, only to not realize that
she is confessing all of this to Zorro himself, who is hiding
in this confession room from the law that is on his trail.
two carry the screen together like Spencer Tracy and Katherine
Hepburn did years ago. They have great chemistry, precise
passion, and wonderful development together. If you didn't
know what Banderas and Zeta-Jones' real lives were like,
you'd swear they could be a couple.
the real show belongs to Anthony Hopkins, who has once again
convinced us that he is not British. His voice, his tone,
and his look are almost so real that even if you didn't
know who he was, you'd think he was actually Latin.
is hardly a moment in the film that is not either action-oriented
or dialogue-heavy. Each of these scenes carry life and beauty
in them, as we sit there and feel stunned over how well
photographed the picture is. Within it's grandeur of story
and action, the camera shots are absolutely spectacular.
They stayed in my mind for days, providing the notion that
perhaps, Hollywood for once was doing something with this
have done something truly unique with it; "The Mask Of Zorro"
is an absolute masterpiece; a film where we can look at
it and think "Hmmm. It's like 1939 all over again."
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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