- 2 hr 5 min
Juarez is a historical drama film released in 1939. Directed by William Dieterle and produced by Hal B. Wallis, it stars Paul Muni as Benito Juarez, the Mexican statesman and Bette Davis as Empress Carlota, the wife of Maximilian I, the Emperor of Mexico. Brian Aherne plays the role of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria. The movie is set in the mid-19th century when Mexico is embroiled in a civil war. The conservative faction, led by General Miramon (John Garfield), is fighting against the liberal party, led by Benito Juarez. The liberals succeed in overthrowing the conservative government, and Juarez becomes the President of Mexico. However, the country is in a state of chaos, and the economy is in shambles.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Emperor Napoleon III of France (Claude Rains) seeks to establish a foothold in Mexico. He convinces Maximilian (Aherne) to become the Emperor of Mexico, supported by French troops. Carlota (Davis), who is infertile and desperate for a child, agrees to become the Empress of Mexico. Maximilian and Carlota arrive in Mexico to a hero's welcome and try to establish order in the country.
Juarez, on the other hand, refuses to recognize the authority of Maximilian and believes in the sovereignty of Mexico. He sees the French as imperialistic and seeks to expel them from Mexico. The movie takes us through the complex politics of the era, with Juarez fighting for the rights of his people and Maximilian trying to establish himself as a legitimate ruler.
The performances are great, particularly by Paul Muni, who delivers a powerful portrayal of Benito Juarez. He captures the charisma and the idealism of the Mexican statesman, who stood for justice and equality. Bette Davis, too, shines as Empress Carlota, depicting her as a woman conflicted between her love for her husband and her imperial responsibilities. Brian Aherne, as Archduke Maximilian, is effective in showcasing his transformation from a reluctant ruler to a despot in denial.
The movie's themes center around imperialism, self-determination, and the struggle for freedom. It also explores the power dynamics between different nations and the consequences of colonization. The scenes of battle and political intrigue are well-filmed, and the movie does not shy away from showing the brutalities of war. The use of lighting and cinematography is excellent, giving the film a distinct visual style. The pacing can be slow at times, but the storytelling makes up for it.
Overall, Juarez is a well-crafted, historical drama that explores the complexities of Mexican politics in the 19th century. It showcases some excellent performances and thought-provoking themes. It is a timeless classic that will resonate with audiences through its stirring message of freedom and justice.
Juarez is a 1939 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 5 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9.