Marlon Brando gives a stunning portrayal of the outlaw turned revolutionary leader. The film also boasts Anthony Quinn's performance as Zapata's brother. Viva Zapata! is one of the classic political movies and a fine example of Brando's genius as a film actor.
What is it about Latin America?
- Viva Zapata! review by JT
Viva Zapata is a slightly romanticised account of the career of this highly influential revolutionary leader whose name is still revered by revolutionaries the world over. Written by John Steinbeck and directed by Elia Kazan at the height of the McCarthy era its political agenda is clear enough. We see three presidents and one not-quite president over a period of barely 10 years. Zapata is the last one, murdered by a resurgent military-political establishment of the sort that has plagued Latin America from Mexico to Chile ever since those countries gained their independence from Spain. The question is: why? After 200-odd years, why have the countries of Latin America never developed robust political institutions and progressed to full democracy?