I'd seen a fuzzy video version of this before and thought it absurd, but this time around thanks to a sharper DVD copy, I liked Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata! (1952). Kazan, despite getting into hot water during the Cold War, directed some of the most famous films in the American repertoire -- A Streetcar Named Desire, for instance, plus On the Waterfront and East of Eden. Add Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn as the Zapata brothers -- riffing from a script by John Steinbeck no less (Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath) -- and presto, you've got some interesting fireworks.
Best not to approach Viva Zapata! through a filter of "realism." We do form a pretty good idea about Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919) and his outlook, and we catch some glimpses of the chaotic nature of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920, too. But everything is streamlined and simplified, even distorted.
The unfolding of the Mexican Revolution was as complex and labyrinthine as Game of Thrones and just as brutal -- and it really happened.
Several Mexican army generals are depicted merely as cynical ghouls.
Francisco Madero (1873-1913) is presented as if on a stage set or silent movie; extra almost clown-like makeup highlights his feckless leadership.
Fernando Aguirre, a character played by Joseph Wiseman (Dr. No in Dr. No), appears almost everywhere in the film. By the end, he seems like an emissary of Satan or maybe even the Devil incarnate. Whether this was intended or not, I have no idea.
Francisco Pancho Villa (1878-1923) is given a pass by only appearing in a couple of scenes set in Mexico City.
Today's Rune: Partnership.