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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

The Mask of Zorro (1998)

Mostly I am reeling from the knowledge that Raul Julia was the first choice for the elder Zorro (Diego) but he died before that could happen. Of all the Raul Julia we were robbed of, this might be what I'm saltiest about.

Hey look it is yet another 1990s adventure flick that made me long for a life of sweeping romance, pithy one-liners, and plenty of daring-do! Zorro, is of course, just another branch of the same tree that brings us Robin Hood, so it is not at all surprising that I spent a good chunk of my life swept up in this story. I particularly like this telling because I don't buy a rich man fighting for the poor out of the goodness of his heart. I just don't! But Alejandro, growing up having been inspired by Zorro, pushed on through poverty by his older brother and then by the death of that same brother... it's a stretch but I buy it. I want to buy it. It's a trajectory that I can root for and I love that this movie focuses on Alejandro's origin and never gets derailed by flashing back to Diego's Why.

This movie is stupid sexy. I was so sheltered, really until college, I didn't understand shit about anything until then. I certainly didn't understand why I was so obsessed with that dance scene for a few years after seeing it. No clue.

Gosh I wonder.

I was deep into my love of fencing and swordplay when this movie came into my life and getting to see Catherine Zeta-Jones handle herself with a sword while she handled Antonio Banderas was pretty fabulous and encouraging. Of course, it was really just one long set up to (I have to be honest) a really solid tearaway effect but still, pretty great that she got a sword in her hand. But who sleeps in a corset???

We (collectively - I've been keeping track) do not give enough credit to the high camp of this film. "Captain Love"! Heads in jars! Ancient nannies showing up for exposition! SO MANY ONE LINERS! Delivered to horses when no one else is around! But truly, it could have been campier. And shorter. Martin Campbell has such a curious record as a director. This! Casino Royale! Vertical Limit, which I enjoy more than maybe I should! ...Green Lantern. I've been thinking a lot lately about the power of being given permission to just go all out and I wonder what a no-holds-barred Martin Campbell vehicle would look like.

When Ben's right, he's right. Anthony Hopkins should have had a harmonica in this. But his casual smoking while whipping candles out(!?) is a gift. The score from James Horner - which is pretty much James Horner attempts Michael Kamen's Prince of Thieves - is a gift. Antonio Banderas' sexual chemistry with whatever is nearby is a gift.

Golly what am I going to do with this one?

"¿Qué dice el Zorro?"

Lino block print.


-This one gave me a lot of trouble. I used traditional lino instead of the "speedy carve" I usually use for prints because it allows finer detail but it is Very Very Difficult to cut. And I basically ended up cutting the whole piece twice because I wanted to do a mottled background to look like clouds (took forever) and it just did not work, so I had to trim all that out. Sigh.

-This is by far my cleverest title and I will never get over the high of punning in a foreign language.

-I want to push my lino work farther but I feel like I'm just stuck. What I should do is go look at the first Nightmare Before Christmas lino I did and compare because I've come a long way. But I want to have come farther, damn it!

-It took days to get the outline done because I'm just struggling with scale and proportion lately and I ended up tracing/transferring a silhouette but it still feels off? Ugh. I dunno.

-But above all, Eat the Rich!!

Next week, which is to say last night, we're having a lovely day, all shiny and chrome and watching Mad Max: Fury Road!! Gonna paint my mouth silver and scream "mediocre" at everyone who disappoints me and call it performance art.

I hope the coming week affords you gentleness and rest. Maybe dance a little. Maybe practice your swordplay (metaphorically speaking). Maybe just rest.

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