Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) is the governor of the Spanish owned territory of California. He is being called back to Spain. The Spanish have been fighting a war against Mexico over the territory. Santa Ana’s men have won the war and Montero must flee. Fighting on the side of the people is a masked avenger called Zorro. Zorro is in reality Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins). Zorro and Montero are bitter enemies, as are Diego and Montero. Montero was in love with Esperanza (Julieta Rosen) but she married Diego. Their child is baby Elena (Maria and Monica Fernandez Cruz). Montero has figured out that Diego is Zorro. Before he leaves for Spain Montero has Diego arrested and thrown into prison. During the confrontation with Diego one of Montero’s men tries to shoot Diego but Esperanza is accidently killed. With Esperanza dead and Diego in prison, Montero takes the baby with him back to Spain and raises her as his own.
Twenty years later General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana is the governor of California. The territory now belongs to Mexico. Montero returns to California from Spain. His daughter Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is with him. She is now a beautiful young adult. Montero visits the prisons to see if Diego is still alive. Not finding him he believes Zorro is dead. Now he can execute his plan for the territory without worry of the great Zorro. But Zorro is still alive and manages to escape the prison.
In town Diego sees a drunken man wearing a necklace that he gave to a child years ago for saving his life as Zorro. He questions the man. His name is Alejandro Murietta (Antonio Banderas). Diego finds out that the medallion belonged to his brother who was killed by Montero’s right hand man, Captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher). Alejandro is eager to settle a score with the captain.
While Alejandro wants revenge on Love, Diego wants revenge on Montero. Diego trains the young thief to take his place as the new Zorro. Alejandro infiltrates Montero’s inner circle to find out why the, wanna be, despot is back in California. Montero presents his scheme to the corrupt Dons of the territory. California is rich in gold. He plans, with the help of the Dons, to mine the gold from one of Santa Ana’s mines, stamp it as if it came from Spain and purchase the California territory from Santa Ana. What Montero doesn’t know is that Diego is alive, Zorro is back and Elena is about to be conflicted by her feelings for her father and her growing intrigue in Zorro.
“The Mask of Zorro” was released in 1998 and was directed by Martin Campbell. It is an action adventure film based on the character of the masked vigilante Zorro created by Johnston McCulley.
If you like a lot of swashbuckle in your movies you’ve come to the right place. There are lots of sword fights, lots of explosions and some impressive trick riding. It is a superhero movie for the nineteenth century and boy is it a lot of fun.
There is a scene where Zorro, in confronting Captain Love, pulls out his sword. The sun glints off the blade running the full length. The effect was Banderas’ idea. It was accomplished by Banderas tilting the sword catching the sun. He had to do the effect without breaking eye contact with Letscher. Reportedly it only took three takes.
Antonio Banderas insisted on performing most of his own stunts. For his fencing scenes he worked with sword trainer Bob Anderson. Anderson trained Errol Flynn. Anderson reportedly said that Banderas was the most gifted swordsman with had worked with since Flynn. Banderas also did some training with the Spanish Olympic team before the film.
In the film, Zorro’s horse is referred to as a black Andalusian but horse experts say it is really a black Friesian.
When Elena’s nanny sees her in the marketplace she speaks to her. The language she is using is Narwack. Narwack is one of 62 languages still spoken by indigenous people in Mexico.