Watch The Mark of Zorro
- 1 hr 30 min
In the silent adventure film, The Mark of Zorro, Douglas Fairbanks delivers a spectacular performance as the heroic and swashbuckling vigilante, Don Diego Vega, aka Zorro. The Mark of Zorro, which first screened in 1920, is a retelling of Johnston McCulley's original story, The Curse of Capistrano, and is director Fred Niblo's first feature-length film. The story is set in Spanish colonial California, where the corrupt Governor Alvarado (played by George Periolat) and his thuggish henchman, Captain Juan Ramon (played by Noah Beery), rule the territory with an iron fist, oppressing the citizens, and seizing their lands. Don Diego Vega, the son of a wealthy landowner, returns from his studies in Spain to find his people suffering and mistreated at the hands of the tyrannical governor. To fight back, he dons a black mask and cape and becomes the masked hero, Zorro. Vega's transformation to Zorro is thrilling and comical. He masquerades as a fop, affecting manorisms and speaking in a high-pitched voice, to throw off suspicion from his true identity. He even goes so far as to mock himself, lamenting, "I'm afraid you'll never be able to train me to be a hero, father." However, whenever injustice or danger confronts him Vega, as Zorro, transforms into a daring hero, leaping, swinging, and dueling with skill and bravery. Fairbanks' performance is captivating, lending a joyful and exhilarating energy to the character. The plot thickens when Vega falls in love with Lolita Pulido (played by Marguerite De La Motte), the beautiful daughter of one of the Governor's victimized subjects, and must save her from the clutches of the evil Captain Ramon. Zorro's duel with Ramon and rescue of Lolita is a highlight of the film, with Fairbanks and Beery's physical prowess vividly on display. The film's technical aspects deserve mention, especially for its era. The sets and costumes are stunning in their detail, immersing the audience in Spanish colonial California. The camerawork is adventurous, employing close-ups, tracking shots, and dynamic angles to convey a sense of motion and excitement. Composer Mortimer Wilson's rousing score uplifts the action sequences and romantic scenes. Despite its nearly one-hundred-year-old history, The Mark of Zorro remains a timeless classic of the adventure genre. It is easy to see why Fairbanks' portrayal of Zorro has endured and become part of popular culture. The Mark of Zorro is a tale of righteousness and romance, humor and swordplay, all set against the colorful backdrop of Spanish California. It is a must-see for fans of silent cinema or action films of any era.