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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Viva Zapata! [Blu-ray]


(Elia Kazan, 1952)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: 20th Century Fox

Video: 20th Century Fox



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:53:14.037

Disc Size: 23,343,106,562 bytes

Feature Size: 22,798,178,304 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.10 Mbps

Chapters: 32

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 7th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1817 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1817 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), Spanish, none



Trailer (3:18)





Description: The life and times of the legendary Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata are brought to the screen in Darryl F. Zanuck's powerful production of John Steinbeck's screenplay. Marlon Brando, fresh from his success in A Streetcar Named Desire, gives a stunning portrayal of the outlaw turned revolutionary leader. The film also boasts Anthony Quinn's 1952 Best Supporting Actor Oscar-Winning performance as Zapata's brother. Viva Zapata! is one of the classic political movies and another fine example of Brando's genius as a film actor.



The Film:

Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by Elia Kazan, this film follows the life of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata (Marlon Brando) from his peasant upbringing, through his rise to power in the early 1900s, to his death. The film presents an interesting but fictionalized picture of Zapata. Zapata, the child of tenant-farmers, was joined by Pancho Villa in his rebellion against tyrannical President Porfirio Diaz. The film romanticizes Zapata and in doing so unfortunately distorts the true nature of the wars he waged. Zapata fought, not to conquer Mexico but to free the land for the peasants of Morelos and other southern provinces. The Oscar-nominated screenplay by John Steinbeck ignores some historical details in order to focus on the corruptive influence of power. Marlon Brando won an Academy Award nomination for his work, as did Anthony Quinn, who took home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his headstrong, hard-fighting, hard-drinking, intensely romantic character who does not hesitate to die for love. The film also features a beautiful score by Alex North, who also received an Academy Award nomination.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Whatever vague and misty memories the rest of the world may have of Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican Indian who led wild revolts of hungry peasants in the south of his country while Pancho Villa was doing the same in the north, a very strong recollection of him is in the mind of Twentieth Century-Fox. In that studio's "Viva Zapata!", which came to the Rivoli yesterday in as lively a swirl of agitation as has been stirred in quite a time, the Mexican rebel leader, whom Marion Brando plays, is recalled as a man of savage passion devoted to the poor and the oppressed. He is also recalled as a champion of matchless integrity, unswerving in his belief in the people—a romantic ideal in every way.

This fervent conception of Zapata may not agree in all details with the little that is really known about him, nor may John Steinbeck's hotly penned account of his troubles with noisome politicians be consistent with history. There is some question from the record whether Zapata was quite the selfless soul, devoutly domesticated, that he is made to appear in this film. But certainly this ardent portrait of him throbs with a rare vitality, and a masterful picture of a nation in revolutionary torment has been got by Director Elia Kazan.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Viva Zapata! looks very strong on Blu-ray from Fox.  The image quality shows some thickness and the contrast is nicely layered in 1080P.  This is only single-layered and has a bitrate in the high teens but the visuals looks sweet, IMO. Many scenes export a sense of depth. Daylight scenes are more impressive but nothing is overly dark and I noted no noise. This Blu-ray is consistent and clean and I found the image very pleasing in-motion. This Blu-ray seems to do a reasonably good job of representing the original appearance with no heavy digital manipulation.



















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master in 2.0 channel at 1817 kbps sounds great - mucho kudos to the score by the great Alex North (Spartacus, Man With the Gun, A Streetcar Named Desire and more.) Crisp even notes have depth and the aggressive effects are all supported well. There are foreign language DUBs and subtitle options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Only a trailer.



One of the things that most impressed me about Viva Zapata! was the cinematography by Joseph MacDonald. He used a lot of shadows to mask, or partially mask, character's faces. Kazan seems in complete control - but there are weaknesses but Jean Peters, Quinn and Joseph Wiseman give solid support. I doubt this is an accurate historical document but I was entertained.  The Blu-ray is bare-bones but Brando fans will delight in his screen dominance and the a/v presentation.

Gary Tooze

May 2nd, 2013



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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