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Movie: Zapata (2004)

About.com Rating 1 Star Rating


Movie: Zapata (2004)

The Real Emiliano Zapata

Public Domain Image

The Bottom Line

Want to see a movie about legendary revolutionary Emiliano Zapata? Forget about this turkey: the 1952 classic Viva Zapata! with Marlon Brando as Zapata is still the best one out there.


  • The acting isn't as bad as many had feared it would be.
  • The cinematography is outstanding.
  • The movie gets one or two historical moments right.


  • The acting is nearly as bad as many had feared it would be.
  • In terms of historical accuracy, the movie gets things right about 5% of the time.
  • The writing and dialogue are dreadful.


  • Starring Alejandro Fernandez as Zapata: he is better known in Mexico as a singer
  • Also starring Lucero, Jesus Ochoa and Jaime Camil
  • Unrated: should be considered PG-13 for bloodless violence and nudity-free sex
  • Directed by Alfonso Arau, best known for his movie Like Water for Chocolate

Guide Review - Movie: Zapata (2004)


The Story:

Young peasant Emiliano Zapata, destined from birth to lead his people out of poverty, takes up arms against a corrupt system. Along the way, he must avoid deadly pitfalls such as treacherous lieutenants, ruthless landowners, armies of federal soldiers, abominable dialogue and lethal historical inaccuracies. He is betrayed and dies a martyr to the cause, inspiring millions of Mexicans to take up arms and fight for land, liberty and the freedom to produce terrible films.

Critical Reaction

The movie bombed because most Mexicans weren’t buying the whole “metaphor” angle: they wanted a movie that didn’t need to be completely historically accurate, but at least did not profane Zapata’s memory by changing every element of his struggle. Really, the only thing missing from this movie is Zapata defeating Maximilian of Austria in a lightsaber duel in the bell tower of the Church of Dolores while Miguel Hidalgo holds off federal Samurai reinforcements with Excalibur and an AK-47. The movie is not educational in the least: anyone seeing this movie would be forgiven for thinking that Victoriano Huerta ordered Zapata’s assassination (he did not: Venustiano Carranza did). Other historical figures such as Villa, Porfirio Diaz and Francisco I. Madero make token appearances, but others equally important to Zapata’s story, such as Alvaro Obregón, Genovevo de la O or Pascual Orozco, do not.

All You Need to Know

Someday, Mexican moviemakers will create an honest, accurate portrayal of Zapata, one of Mexico's greatest heroes. Until then, we're stuck with this bomb, which you should avoid like week-old guacamole.

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