|Directed by||Elia Kazan|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Written by||John Steinbeck
Edgecumb Pinchon (uncredited)
|Music by||Alex North|
|Editing by||Barbara McLean|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
|Release date(s)||February 7, 1952|
|Running time||113 minutes|
Viva Zapata! is a 1952 fictional-biographical film directed by Elia Kazan. The screenplay was written by John Steinbeck, using as a guide Edgcomb Pinchon's book, 'Zapata the Unconquerable', a fact that is not credited in the titles of the film. It is a fictionalized account of the life of Mexican Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata from his peasant upbringing, through his rise to power in the early 1900s, to his death. To give the film as authentic a feel as possible, Kazan and producer Darryl F. Zanuck studied the numerous photographs that were taken during the revolutionary years, the period between 1909 and 1919 when Zapata led the fight to restore land taken from the people during the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. Kazan was especially impressed with the Agustin Casasola collection of photographs and he attempted to duplicate their visual style in the film. Kazan also acknowledged the influence of Roberto Rosselini's Paisan.
Zapata (Marlon Brando) is part of a delegation sent to complain about injustices to corrupt longtime President Porfirio Díaz (Fay Roope), but Díaz condescendingly dismisses their concerns. As a result, Zapata is driven to open rebellion, along with his brother Eufemio (Anthony Quinn). He in the south and Pancho Villa (Alan Reed) in the north unite under the leadership of naive reformer Francisco Madero (Harold Gordon).
Díaz is finally toppled and Madero takes his place, but Zapata is dismayed to find that nothing is changed. The new regime is no less corrupt and self-serving than the one it replaced. His own brother sets himself up as a petty dictator, taking what he wants without regard for the law. The ineffectual but well-meaning Madero puts his trust in treacherous General Victoriano Huerta (Frank Silvera). Huerta first takes Madero captive and then has him murdered. Zapata himself is lured into an ambush and killed.
Zapata is depicted in the film as an incorruptible rebel leader. He is guided by his desire to return the land to the peasants, who have been robbed, while forsaking his personal interest. Steinbeck meditates in the film on power, military and political, which corrupts men. Zapata excepted.
The film was also nominated for: