Conclusion: A rousing and inspiring motion picture from director Elia Kazan, 'Viva Zapata!' is the fictionalized and highly romanticized portrait of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata. From a script written by famed American novelist John Steinbeck, the film features an extraordinary performance by Marlon Brando, who breathes life and humanity into a cherished historical figure that has grown to the status of legendary martyr.
Summary: “Viva Zapata!” is one of those films that, while it continues to have impressive aspects, just doesn’t hold up as well as it did when it was first made. You find yourself wishing it were in widescreen, and that they had hired at least ONE Latino actor.
Excerpt: Brought to life by Marlon Brando in a performance that would have won the OSCAR for a lesser actor, Viva Zapata! is the story of Emiliano Zapata, the legendary Mexican revolutionary. Noted director Elia Kazan works off a powerful screenplay by John Steinbeck, which covers the rise of Zapata from a simple man to a general in the Mexican Revolution and iconic figure across his country.
Conclusion: Viva Zapata isn't nearly as well-known or well-regarded as Kazan and Brando's other famous collaborations— A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront —but if it's not an important film, it is a curious and entertaining one, part romanticized biography, part corruption-of-power fable, and part white-washed political history.