The Mask of Zorro, by Ted Elliott and three other contributors
In some ways, The Mask of Zorro looks like an animated movie, with a story that has some childish humor and a character that fights all the bad people and beats them in every possible way, while helping the poor, opposing the filthy, ruthless rich.
Nevertheless, this motion picture has been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and Best Actor in a Leading Role – Comedy or Musical…
Antonio Banderas is the nominee and he is indeed dazzling, fulminant, dashing, spectacular, and funny and accomplished in the role of Alejandro Murrieta aka Zorro, a hero that puts to shame the likes of Ironman, the Avengers and other such cartoon characters.
Zorro has been portrayed in a resplendent, sparkling manner by Alain Delon –it is difficult to know if and to what extent the makers of this version have been inspired by the original- and in this newer version, Don Diego de la Vega is the older hero, played by the magisterial, imperial Anthony Hopkins, who is very impressive in a role wherein he manages to combine reflection, sadness, tenderness with bravery, determination, fighting skills, devotion, kindness and manhood.
The ravishing, attractive, aristocratic, passionate, beautiful, seductive, loyal, sophisticated Elena is portrayed by Catherine Zeta- Jones, very convincing in the leading role of a romantic woman, impressed and at the same time opposing the protagonist, even fighting him with a sword.
Elena thinks she is the daughter of the evil, rich Don Rafael Montero- and for practical purposes, she is, in a twisted, tragic manner she is the adopted daughter of her father’s mortal enemy- but she –and the audience- is not meant to know that until rather late in the film.
In the background, Spain concedes California to Santa Anna, the vicious Don Rafael has a cruel, mischievous plan to extract gold from a mine that he keeps secret, where he abuses, tortures and kills people, using even children for his nefarious plans.
Some viewers – the under signed anyway- can be turned off to a certain degree by the rather socialist views of the older and younger Zorros, who take from the rich and give to the poor, respecting the tradition of Robin Hood and other outlaws, which are defined by some as libertarians or even communists.
The old Zorro is seeking revenge, for the murderous Don Rafael Montero had killed his wife, taken his daughter and abuses and tortures so many more in his ruthless, selfish effort to become ever richer and more powerful
In this fight he trains young Zorro aka Antonio Banderas, offering the public moments of mirth, while showing some cruelty towards an apprentice that shows talent, skill, but not enough to satisfy the demands of the noble Don Diego de la Vega.
When the younger man is good enough with the sword and beats hordes of enemies with unbelievable agility and ease, the master states that he still needs something which is essential and that is charm, sophistication and the ability to pass for an aristocrat for these opponents they face would not even look at the eyes of a servant.
Don Diego wants to introduce Alejandro Murrieta in the inner circle of his mortal enemy, passing him for a rich man who can be used, teaching his student that the nobles “never say what they mean and never mean what they say”.
Young Zorro is enticed, infatuated with Elena and it seems to be reciprocated, even if with pride and fierce passion, she opposes advances from the young stranger, while at the same time flirting and dancing with him- a high point, spectacular scene takes place while the two dance, offering an amazing show.
When Alejandro enters a stable, dashing Elena is waiting and the man has to change his macho attitude, for the young lady knows how to fight and she is excellent at it, until the famous fighter takes control and keeps taking clothes off his opponent with…his sword.
When father Don Rafael – at this stage she still thinks he is her real father- arrives at the scene of the battle of sexes, she states that the young man fought with her and he is strong…very strong.
The villain takes Alejandro and other people that he wants to use in his scheme of making money and taking advantage of his enemies to the mine where he has gold to show them, where children work with old men, under the whip, facing torture and abuse.
As one of them tries to attack the vicious, ruthless Don Rafael, his stooges and new partners in crime, he is killed with a shot.
A fight ensues, where there are explosions, the workers are locked in cages, they are in danger of dying, the heroes Batman and Robin- sorry, Young and Old Zorro- fight with the ability of Superman, Batman, Rocky, Terminator and some other Super Heroes combined and send scores of enemies into the ground.
This seems preposterous and incredible, but there are elements of mockery that make the whole show acceptable, even enjoyable, for Zorro has many moments- well, a few anyway- when he is ridiculed…
Take his horse: when the hero selects it, he says the animal should be proud- but he is not- he keeps telling the horse to come and wait for him to jump from the roof, but he lands on the ground, the smart animal would not dignify the big ego with servility and sends the protagonist to the ground at least another time.