Monday, June 21, 2010

Viva Zapata

This land is yours. But you must protect it. It won't be yours long if you don't protect it. If necessary, with your lives, and your children with their lives. Don't discount your enemies. They will be back. And if your house is burned, build it again. If your corn is destroyed, replant. If your children die, bear more. If they drive you out of the valley, live on the mountain, but live. You always look for leaders, strong men without faults. There aren't any. There are only men like yourselves. They change. They desert. They die. There are no leaders but yourselves. A strong people is the only lasting strength - Emiliano Zapata Salazar

Idealism is a difficult trait, specially for the people closely surrounding the idealists. Idealist leaders may always be swarmed by followers but, those closely related to him are constant state of trouble due to their idealist behaviour. Sometimes followers would resist them when they bring change and deviation from what is otherwise understood as normal behaviour. Idealist inspire and motivate people, they are the heroes of masses. Everyone looks upto them but, no one wants to live with them. They do have logic of their own to believe in their actions and they tend to have a foresight for greater good of everyone. The vision may sometimes be short, but it bring hopes to repressed masses.
For the first time, Sapota has seen Marlon Brando as an idealist hero. His general portray of character is erratic, self indulgent and apathetic protagonist, who will arouse pity and disgust but, not heroism. Brando does it exactly the way it should have been. This may seem a bit of an overstatement; Portraying a Mexican hero in a cinema could be difficult, and Marlon Brando seems like an outrightly wrong choice, but he plays it well enough to prove that wrong. His style is engrossing and he evokes compassion.

Zapata could not read or write, but he was a wise man. He firmly believed that leader should be educated. He being a farmer himself have correct understanding of the needs of fellow men. One sequence in movie is particularly remarkable "Zapata become president and write name of the farmer, who cross questions him, this suddenly becomes a turning point where he threw away his presidency and started fighting beside the revolutionaries". This is where idealism kicks in. Like an idealist he is a constant fighter, he doesn't care for fancy suits and high offices.
The dubiousness of morality of government and military official in implementing the land reforms provokes his conscience to leave the presidency. He understood that in this era of civil war, there would never be any peace and revolution will continue. So, he chooses to stay with revolutionaries.
There is an amazing synergy between Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando, where both of them builds up marvellous tempo in the movie. Both are so idiosyncratic still they align so well. No wonder all their movie as a team are wonderful.

Monogamy was not such a great virtue in times of revolution, but Zapata had a sense of being loyal to one women and he tries everything to get her. But he could have married her only when he was rich or a ranking officer. Zapata during entire course of his life never had tendency of acquiring ranks and offices. He was inclined towards obtaining the means to sustain the revolution. During the war due to constant victories, he becomes general of southern armies. This makes it easy for him to marry the women he loved. But living with an idealist was no easy deal, he demanded his wife to teach him reading. As the revolution intensifies the life becomes hard, his in-laws wanted him to leave the war posts and sit in office like a typical general. The president even offered him a ranch, but idealist never want all that, he had bigger things to worry about, his current engagement was implementation of land reforms.
When his brother gets killed in an ambush, he takes him home for a normal funeral instead of a martyr's funeral. Since he died in a personal battle and not and not in the revolution. He created a new legacy for entire Mexico, even after his death, people never believed he died. And so the Mexican revolution continued even after his death. He created a new generation of leaders and revolutionaries, whose aim was to protect the land and interests of farmers.