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.


Anonymous said...

I was just blogging about "inaccurate history" the other day! My friend and I decided it's ok to take liberties in some respects, especially with the "characters" themselves, but the historical facts should pretty much be right! Alas, I'm afraid it's too much to ask of Hollywood!

Gormania said...

Well, for once your snotty remarks happened to hit home. I was, in fact, finishing my 475,000 word essay on The Seventh Seal (mine is in Latin with a lot of footnotes and ibids, mister smarty pants) when I thought I'd take a break and read a few blogs.

I have only one thing to say about your remarks on the historical accuracy of the picture about Catherine's lovely breasts--what difference does history make in a country where nearly 50% of the people believe in Creationism? They wouldn't know the difference anyway--or care.

I say this because driving to the supermarket yesterday I tuned in on a local radio talk show where a woman was supporting Pat Robertson's notion that earth was created 6000 years ago. He doesn't seem bothered by the fact that Egypt prospered at least 12,000 years ago.

And while at the store, I broke down and bought the Tor reissue of the original Zorro novel. For all the talk of high-brow literary immortality, the low-life likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne seem to have done pretty well.

Now back to the Seventh Seal.

E Pluribus to you and yours,


Joan Reeves said...

My husband wouldn't care if the kid sounded like Bill and Ted in their Excellent Adventure as long as Catherine Z-J was in a corset.

Anonymous said...

Alas, I suspect Catherine Z-J's roles these days are confined to those where she can wear a corset.

Anonymous said...

I hate anachronistic dialogue, like "okay" in Pirates of the Caribbean, or "acid test" in Elizabeth II.--Karin

Anonymous said...

Make that Elizabeth I.--Karin