Saturday, November 12, 2005
The Legend of Zorro
This weekend, while you were writing that essay on "The Symbolic Play of Light and Shadow in The Seventh Seal" for Cahiers du Cinema, I was at the mall watching The Legend of Zorro. It's really dumb, sort of a mish-mash of The Da Vinci Code, Notorious, and "The Reverend Mr. Black."
It's also full of bad history. For example, the year is supposedly 1850. In the first scene (and it's a pretty good action scene, too), a guy announces that he's using a Henry repeating rifle. I don't know much about the history of rifles, but I don't think the Henry came along until almost ten years later, sometime in the late 1850s. And then (not to spoil the plot for you) there are those Pinkerton agents. In California in 1850? I doubt it. Alan Pinkerton didn't found the agency until 1850 or so, and he didn't operate nationally until some years later. And then, well, what the heck. There's a lot more, but why go on?
Were the Zorro movies I saw as a kid any more accurate? I doubt it, and what difference does it really make? What matters in a Zorro movie is the stunts, a tradition going back to Douglas Fairbanks. So I'm asking myself, when did Zorro become Spiderman? The things Fairbanks did at least looked humanly possible, mainly because he was probably doing them himself instead of using stunt doubles and trampolines. Still, the stunts in this new movie do look pretty cool.
But then there's the kid. Who came up with that? Geez. Sticking the kid in the movie was a bad idea, but having him act like a modern kid was even worse. Having a California kid of 1850 saying stuff like, "C'mon, you want a piece of me?" is just asinine.
On the other hand, the movie does have Catherine Zeta-Jones (see picture, above left), a really neat explosion, a couple of funny lines, and a really cool cape-swirling scene. If you're up for a couple of hours of dumb fun, you could do worse.