Jamie Elliott's Reviews > Zapata

Zapata by John Steinbeck
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's review
Nov 07, 2008

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Zapata contains two versions of a screenplay which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1952. In both versions the main character is the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, who fought for the rights of peasants against the wealthy Mexican aristocracy in the early 1900's. Steinbeck spent years conducting research on Zapata in Mexico, and the first version of his story is rich with historical detail. The second version is the actual screenplay, where the reality has been parsed and tweaked to make a better story. It was fascinating to see this process of creation, the art involved in making a simple, compelling movie script from a convoluted history. The first version was also fascinating to read, full as it was of small details about peasant life in Mexico. The overarching theme of both is the eternal fight of humanity against the powerful, always a worthwhile subject, and presented here in a historical and literary context that makes these screenplays worth reading.

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