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The Mask of Zorro
Directed by Martin Campbell
Produced by David Foster
Doug Claybourne
Executive Producers:
Steven Spielberg
Walter F. Parkes
Written by Screenplay:
John Eskow
Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio
Story:
Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio
Randell Jahnson
Characters:
Johnston McCulley
Starring Antonio Banderas
Anthony Hopkins
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Stuart Wilson
Matt Letscher
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Phil Meheux
Editing by Thom Noble
Studio Amblin Entertainment
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date(s) July 17, 1998
Running time 136 min.
Country  United States
Language English
Budget $95 million
Gross revenue $250,288,523
Followed by The Legend of Zorro

The Mask of Zorro is a swashbuckler film directed by Martin Campbell, and stars Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stuart Wilson. In over 80 years since the creation of the Spanish masked swordsman, Banderas was the first Spanish actor to ever portray Zorro, who is called a Californio from Las Californias. Hopkins portrayed the original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega who was popularized by Guy Williams on the Disney TV series of the same name.

This epic, filmed in Mexico and Orlando, Florida, was both a box office success and critically acclaimed. The Legend of Zorro, a sequel also starring Banderas, Zeta-Jones and directed by Campbell, was released in 2005.

Contents

Plot summary

In 1821, the Mexican Army is on the verge of liberating its country from Spanish colonial rule. In the area of Las Californias the cruel and ruthless Spanish Governor, Don Rafael Montero, is about to be overthrown. In a last ditch effort to trap his arch-nemesis, the masked swordsman Zorro (Anthony Hopkins), Montero prepares to execute three innocent townspeople. With assistance from two orphan brothers, Joaquin and Alejandro Murrieta, Zorro releases the prisoners. Zorro rewards the Murrieta brothers with a special medallion he wears, and escapes on his horse, Toronado, after cutting a "Z" into Montero's neck as a parting gift and warning.

The same night, however, Montero confronts Zorro at his home, having deduced that Zorro is really Don Diego de la Vega, a Spanish nobleman married to Esperanza, the woman Montero had always loved. Attempting to arrest Diego, a fight ensues, during which Esperanza is killed while trying to protect Diego. Diego's house is burned and his infant daughter, Eléna, is taken to Spain by Montero to be raised as his own while Diego is taken to prison.

Twenty years later, Montero secretly returns to California, looking for Diego in the old prison. Although de La Vega is there, Montero does not recognize him, while several prisoners claim to be Zorro. Diego later escapes by pretending to be dead, intent on killing Montero the following day at a public ceremony for Montero's return. However, Diego restrains himself when he sees Eléna (Catherine Zeta-Jones), now a beautiful young lady. Elena is presented with a bouquet of local flowers - Romagnas, which only grow in California -, the scent of which she recognizes, although she incorrectly believes she has never been to California before.

Diego soon meets an adult Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), whom he recognizes by the medal he awarded Joaquin. Now a drunken, clumsy bandit, Alejandro is bitter over the recent capture of his mentor, bandit Three-Fingered Jack (L. Q. Jones), and the murder of Joaquin by the sadistic and slightly psychotic Texian Army Captain Harrison Love, Montero's commander-in-chief. Diego recruits and trains Alejandro to become his successor.

After some training, Alejandro dons a makeshift costume and clumsily steals a black stallion that resembles Tornado, the horse ridden by Zorro. En route, Alejandro first glimpses Eléna. Escaping from Captain Love, Alejandro seeks refuge in a local church, with the assistance of the town priest and Zorro's old friend, Father Felipe. Alejandro hides in the confessional, where Eléna unwittingly reveals her infatuation with the mysterious "bandit" she had just met.

Upon his return, Diego scolds Alejandro, claiming that Zorro was a servant of the people, not a thief and adventurer. Diego rebuffs a challenge by Alejandro, instructing him that to gain Montero's trust, Alejandro must convince Montero that he is "a gentleman of stature." Posing as visiting nobleman Don Alejandro del Castillo y García, with Diego as his servant, Bernardo, Alejandro attends a party at Montero's hacienda, where he quickly gains Eléna's admiration and enough of Montero's trust for the latter to invite him to a secret meeting. There, Montero hints at a plan to retake all of California for the Dons by buying it from its hero, General Santa Anna, since he is desperate need of money to fund his ongoing war with the United States.

The next day, Alejandro and the Dons are taken by Montero to a secret gold mine known as "El Dorado", where peasants and petty criminals are used as slave labor. Montero reveals that he plans to buy California from Santa Anna using gold mined from his own land. During the visit, Three-Fingered Jack, now working at the mine as a slave, openly criticises the Dons for their schemes, and is shot and killed by Captain Love in front of everyone present, amplifying Alejandro's desire for revenge. Meanwhile, Diego uses this opportunity to become closer to Eléna, though he identifies himself as "Bernardo" the servant (a homage to the name of Zorro's mute sidekick from the original story), learning that Montero told Elena that her mother died in childbirth. Later, while walking in a local market, Eléna meets the woman who had been her nanny and used to hang romagnas on her crib.

In the film's most famous scene, Zorro strips Eléna of her bodice and then takes her for a long sensuous kiss.

Diego then allows Alejandro, as Zorro, to steal the map leading to the gold mine from Montero's hacienda. In the process, Zorro duels and fights off Montero, Captain Love, and their guards. As he escapes to the stable, he is confronted by Eléna, who attempts to retrieve the map belonging to her "father." While Elena shows considerable skill with a sword, Zorro nonetheless manages to defeat her, then playfully cuts off her bodice, leaving her in nothing but her underwear and her long tresses. After a passionate kiss, Zorro flees the stable and shakes off his pursuers. Meanwhile, terrified of Santa Anna's retribution if he discovers that he is being paid with his own gold, Montero and Captain Love decide to destroy the mine and kill the workers, thereby leaving no evidence. The next day, they lock the workers in their quarters and set gunpowder charges to explode.

Zorro uses the stolen map to locate the mine in order to release the workers. Diego tells Zorro to release them on his own, so that he can confront Montero and reclaim Elena as his daughter. Alejandro sets off to the mine, feeling betrayed by Diego's personal vendetta. Later that night, Diego corners Montero at the hacienda and reveals his true identity. After being summoned by her presumed "father," Montero captures Diego after threatening to kill him in front of Elena. As he is escorted away by guards, Diego tells Elena the name of the flowers she recognized upon her arrival to California, convincing her that Diego is her true father. She releases Diego from his cell, and they proceed to the mine.

There, Zorro prevents Love from loading gold onto a wagon to be taken from the mine, and engages him in a duel to the death. Diego prevents Montero from shooting Zorro, and they also duel. After disarming Montero, Eléna appeals for him to spare Montero's life. Montero capitalizes by threatening Eléna, and then wounding Diego. Zorro defeats and kills Love in a protracted swordfight taking them through various points around the mine, avenging both Joaquin and Three-Fingered Jack. Though mortally wounded, Diego also defeats Montero, by having a gold-laden wagon drag Montero off a cliff, avenging Esperanza and crushing Love in the process. Eléna and Alejandro, now without his mask, free the captive workers before the explosives set by Love go off.

Before dying in their arms, Diego makes peace with Alejandro, fully passes the mantle of Zorro to him, and gives his blessings for Alejandro's and Elena's prospective marriage. In the film's epilogue, Alejandro and Eléna have married and rebuilt the de la Vega home. They also have a son named Joaquin, in honor of Alejandro's brother.

Undressing of Eléna scene

In the film's most famous scene, Eléna is undressed by Zorro following their duel.

The one moment that captured all the advertising and viewer's attention: When Eléna (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is undressed by the slashing sword of Mexican thief Alejandro Murrieta/Zorro (Antonio Banderas); the view of her opened dress caused his sword blade to pop up, followed by his taking her for a sensuous kiss.[1][2] The scene has been called one of the most erotic film moments of the 1990s.[3][4] In fact, both Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas have admitted to sexual arousal during the filming of this scene,[5] Banderas being aroused by Zeta-Jones's beauty,[5] and Zeta-Jones being aroused by the very fact that Banderas could strip her by using only his sword and not his hands.[5]

Main cast

Character Actor/Actress
Alejandro Murrieta/Zorro Antonio Banderas
Don Diego De La Vega/Zorro Anthony Hopkins
Eléna (De La Vega) Montero Catherine Zeta-Jones
Don Rafael Montero Stuart Wilson
Captain Harrison Love Matt Letscher
Don Luiz Tony Amendola
Don Pedro Pedro Armendáriz, Jr.
Father Felipe William Marquez
Corporal Armando Garcia Jose Perez
Joaquin Murrieta Victor Rivers
Three-fingered Jack L.Q. Jones

Historical and cultural references

The Mask of Zorro and its sequel The Legend of Zorro, originates from the book The Curse of Capistrano. Like the book, it weaves several historical figures and incidents into its narrative. Alejandro is the fictional brother of Joaquin Murrieta, a Mexican outlaw killed by California State Ranger Harry Love, portrayed here as Texas Army Captain "Harrison Love", in 1853. (The film takes place more than a decade earlier.) In the movie, Love shoots Murrieta with a Colt Buntline long-barrelled revolver, which was not available until 1876. Similarly, there is a character called Three Fingered Jack although the real person was a Mexican named Manuel Garcia rather than an Anglo-American. The opening sequence is set during the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, and a war between the United States and Mexico is alluded to. Too early to be the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, this may refer to the Republic of Texas' continual conflicts with Mexico.

Montero's plan for an independent "Republic of California" (colored pink) is unveiled. Alejandro, disguised as a wealthy Spaniard, stands apart from the table.

Alejandro tells Montero that he came to California via Paris, Lisbon, and San Francisco, though in 1841, San Francisco was still Yerba Buena. (The name change didn't occur until January 1847.) An original ending on the DVD includes an appearance by Antonio López de Santa Anna, who appears familiar with the Zorro legend, and Montero's plot concerning Californian gold (and its climactic concealment) foreshadows the California Gold Rush.

Diego uses the name Bernardo when posing as the new Zorro's servant. In the previous Zorro stories, Diego had a mute servant named Bernardo. Both Zorros conceal their costume under a priest's robes, a tactic used in numerous Zorro-related works. Diego's hacienda has a secret passage in a walk-in fireplace, which has also appeared in previous films. Esperanza de la Vega, Diego's wife, is not Lolita Pulido, the first woman he married.

The Zorro silhouette that bookends the film, as well as the action-packed opening scene, recall popular James Bond film structures. (The Mask of Zorro's director Campbell had directed 1995's GoldenEye, the first Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan, and would later direct 2006's Casino Royale, the first to star Daniel Craig; Campbell performed a similar service for Antonio Banderas in this film.)

Critical reaction and Box-office

Critical reaction to The Mask of Zorro has been mostly positive. The film currently holds an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes[6] and a rating of 63 out of 100 on Metacritic[7].

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised the film, awarding it three stars (out of four) and calling it "a display of traditional movie craftsmanship, especially at the level of the screenplay, which respects the characters and story and doesn't simply use them for dialogue breaks between action sequences."[8] Ebert later called The Mask of Zorro "probably the best Zorro movie ever made."[9]

James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three and a half stars, saying that it features "a great deal of excitement and adventure, all brought to the screen by using a somewhat irreverent tone that keeps the mood light without trivializing the characters."[10] Todd McCarthy of Variety said that "the return of the legendary swordsman is well served by a grandly mounted production in the classical style."[11]

Scott Tobias of The Onion's A.V. Club said The Mask of Zorro "delivers the goods", "coasting on the charisma of its stars and a few exciting action setpieces".[12] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said that the film is "the kind of pleasant entertainment that allows the paying customers to have as much fun as the people on screen."[13]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave The Mask of Zorro a lukewarm review, calling it a "lavishly produced swashbuckler" but felt that it "should have been far more entertaining."[14] Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune agreed, saying that the film is "spectacular, fast, [and] never boring, [but] also one of the more disappointing movies I've seen recently."[15]

The movie was enthusiastically received in Wales, which is the home country of both Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones, their respective places of birth being less than 10 miles apart.

The Mask of Zorro did very well at the box-office, grossing $250,288,523 worldwide.[16]

References

  1. ^ Dirks, Tim. ""Best and Most Memorable Film Kisses of All Time in Cinematic History"". Filmsite.org. http://www.filmsite.org/filmkisses10.html. Retrieved 2008-03-13.  
  2. ^ In order to accomplish the effect of Catherine Zeta-Jones's dress falling off from being sliced up by Antonio Banderas, a thin wire was attached to the dress to yank it off when the director called "action". In the film, it is quite obvious that the dress is being torn off by a wire rather than simply falling off by itself. Additionally, the back of Zeta-Jones's dress opens, which causes the upper half to fall, exposing her upper body, and then her skirt crumbling. Note that the actress tried to cover for this movement by moving her arms slightly to suggest the fragility of the mutilated dress. Furthermore, after being undressed by Banderas, Zeta-Jones is seen wearing a kind of long underwear, colored a light blue, that covers her below her hips. In the next long shot where she is covering her breasts with Banderas's hat, her "underwear" changes in style, coloring and fabric. Source: ""Goofs" of The Mask of Zorro". IMDB. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120746/goofs. Retrieved 2008-03-13.  
  3. ^ Dirks, Tim. ""SEXUAL or EROTIC FILMS"". Filmsite.org. http://www.filmsite.org/sexualfilms8.html. Retrieved 2008-03-13.  
  4. ^ Dirks, Tim. ""GREAT MOMENTS and SCENES FROM THE GREATEST FILMS"". Filmsite.org. http://www.filmsite.org/scenes26.html. Retrieved 2008-03-13.  
  5. ^ a b c "Sexiest..." (2006) - "E!". IMDB.
  6. ^ The Mask of Zorro, Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ Mask of Zorro, The (1998): Reviews, Metacritic
  8. ^ The Mask of Zorro review, Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, July 17, 1998
  9. ^ The Legend of Zorro review, Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, October 28, 2005
  10. ^ The Mask of Zorro review, James Berardinelli, ReelViews, 1998
  11. ^ The Mask of Zorro review, Todd McCarthy, Variety
  12. ^ The Mask of Zorro review, Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club, March 29th, 2002
  13. ^ The Mask of Zorro review, Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
  14. ^ The Mask of Zorro review, Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
  15. ^ The Mask of Zorro review, Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
  16. ^ [1]

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Mask of Zorro is a 1998 action film.

Contents

Don Diego

  • You know there is a saying, a very old saying:when the pupil is ready the master will appear.
  • A nobleman is nothing but a man, who says one thing and thinks another.

Alejandro

  • That is the way they are dancing in Madrid these days... Don Rafael, you'll have to excuse me, I have to catch my breath. Your daughter is a very spirited dancer.
  • All this sword play, and riding around on horses, it gives me a frightful headache.

Captain Love

  • You're doing very well. Your brother would have shot himself by now.
  • Funny, that's the second time I've shot this man while he was flying through the air.

Elena

  • He was vigorous (smiles then looks serious) He was very vigorous Father.

Dialogue

Don Diego: You have passion Alejandro, and you skill is growing. But to enter Montero's world, I must give you something which is completely beyond your reach.
Alejandro: Ah, yes? And what is that?
Don Diego: Charm.

Alejandro: I miss my brother, sir.
Don Diego: Your brother is dead. We lose the ones we love; we cannot change it. Put it aside.
Alejandro: How? How can I do what is needed, when all I feel is... hate.
Don Diego: You hide it. With this.

Soldier: Hey... I thought you were tied up.
Joaquín: That is because you are stupid.

Alejandro: Do you surrender?
Elena: Never, but I may scream.
Alejandro: I understand. Sometimes I have that effect.

Don Diego: You should not trade something like that for a mere glass of whiskey.
Alejandro: Why not? You think I could get two?

Alejandro: I would have killed him.
Don Diego: No, not today. He is trained to kill. You seem trained to drink. Oh yes, my friend, you would have fought very bravely, and died very quickly. Who then would avenge your brother?
Alejandro: I would have found a way. I've never lost a fight.
Don Diego: Except to a crippled old man just now.

Elena: Forgive me father for I have sinned. It has been three days since my last confession.
Alejandro: Three days? How many sins could you have committed in three days? Come back when you have more time, please.
Elena: What?
Alejandro: I mean, go on my child.
Elena: I have broken the fourth commandment, padre.
Alejandro: You killed somebody?
Elena: No, that is not the fourth commandment.
Alejandro: Of course not. Tell me, in what way did you break the most sacred of commandments?
Elena: I dishonored my father.
Alejandro: That is not so bad. Maybe your father deserved it.

Don Diego: Convince Montero that you're a gentleman of stature, and he will let you into his circle.
Alejandro: Me? A gentleman? This is going to take a lot of work.
Don Diego: Yes.

Alejandro: Weren't you chasing some legendary bandit?
Captain Love: He was hardly legendary.
Alejandro: So you caught him?
Captain Love: It's only a matter of time.
Alejandro: Well the bandit might have escaped. But we will all think twice before going to confession.

Captain Love: The lady and I were trying to dance.
Alejandro: You were trying. She was succeeding.

Don Diego: Do you know how to use that thing?
Alejandro: Yes. The pointy end goes into the other man.

Alejandro: Look at me. I look like a butterfly. This is the most stupid thing I've ever done.
Don Diego: I doubt that.
Alejandro: We'll never get away with this.
Don Diego: Yes we will. A nobleman is nothing but a man who says one thing and thinks another.

External links

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