I recently wrote an article in which I expressed a fondness for the film Highlander. This, I thought, was a rather uncontroversial statement. Especially in light of my call for the government to effectively mug international students. Yet, to my dismay, it was this assertion that Highlander is an enjoyable film that met with the ire of an unknown assailant of indeterminate gender. And what was the reason for the tirade of this man (or woman)? He (or she) prefers The Mask of Zorro…
My first issue with this attack is that I cannot for the life of me fathom how anybody could say with truth in their heart that they enjoy The Mask of Zorro. I do not mean that in an ‘enjoy it more than Highlander’ way. I mean it in a ‘how could anyone under any circumstances ever think it is a competent movie?’ way. It is a tacky film. Yes, tacky is the perfect word for it. It feels tacky, it feels cheap, it feels rushed. It does not surprise me that, when I look at its development cycle, Anthony Hopkins did not sign on until a month before filming began. Anybody who has suffered through the first few minutes can see that Hopkins acts as if he has accidentally wandered onto the set and the director has decided to roll with it. Perhaps he truly had wandered on by mistake. I see no other reason why the film would attempt to sell to me—and to you—the idea of a Hispanic noble of Spanish or Mexican descent having a very thick Welsh accent. I consider it an even greater injustice than Sean Connery’s Edinburgh-accented Egyptian. At least in the case of the latter he is in his scenes roaming around the Highlands and can perhaps claim that he is putting on the accent to blend in with the locals. Does Mexico-controlled California have a strong Welsh community that is otherwise unmentioned?
This EntirelyForced, if that is his (or her) real name, attempts to sell to you—and to me—the idea that this is a fun romp, one of expert choreography and good action. He (or she) dares to compare it to a Batman film. Yes, perhaps—if the Batman in comparison is the Adam West version. It is a campy affair that would have even Cesar Romero himself blushing in embarrassment. Antonio Banderas spends the entire film doing a parody of what a racist thinks a Mexican sounds like. Banderas is Hispanic, his look is Hispanic, his accent is Hispanic; and yet it seems that either he or the director or a combination of the two felt that he wasn’t quite Hispanic enough for this Hispanic character. So he spends the film ‘putting it on’. It’s as if his preparation for the character was to spend his days and nights watching The Simpsons’ Bumblebee Man on repeat.
For a man (or woman) who claims that Zorro is good film, he (or she) is sorely lacking in any details beyond stating that it is “exciting and entertaining” while belying his true feelings in the next paragraph with much more negative adjectives. The dialogue “isn’t anything overly special,” the plot is “cut-out,” the acting is “hammy”. I ask you: are these the words used to describe a good film? No, they are the words of the psyche, of the id, coming to the fore to betray the reality. The reality that Highlander is the better film, a fact that he (or she) knows all too well but refuses to acknowledge out of some misguided sense of contrarianism, like Socrates at the court of Athens, choosing to drink the hemlock of bad swashbuckling action rather than admit to being an up-jumped nobody with delusions of grandeur.
Such is this EntirelyForced’s delusion, that his (or her) response to facing this fact is to pull out his (or her) best Michael Gove impression, discrediting hard-working critics for having the gall to rank Highlander as a better film. “I think the people in this country have had enough of experts,” he or she says while slamming closed the laptop on which the evidence is shown, “with organisations from fruit-based reviewers saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.” Perhaps his (or her) Michael Gove tribute act does not end there. Indeed, one would need snort Escobar dry to reach such a state of mind as to consider Zorro not only good, but better than Highlander. For a man (or woman) who has spent the better part of his (or her) adult years attempting to prove that he (or she) is not an idiot, he (or she) unravels it all with one ludicrous statement.
This EntirelyForced claims an imperviousness to nostalgia, a one amongst the billions who can look at the past with no sense of that tingle one feels when remembering the happier part of one’s life. But what else other than nostalgia can explain such love and admiration for such mediocrity? Perhaps this EntirelyForced does not want to re-open the wounds of the past, when he (or she) was left to fester in the hovel of his (or her) home, hoping—praying even—that a Zorro, either the Welsh version or the stereotypically Mexican one, would come and rescue him (or her) squalor. He (or she) is Elena, and the world is Montero and Love. Whatever the real reason, it is strange to me that one who would tell others not to express their feelings would choose to ignore that advice and offer to the world the tripe that Zorro is better than Highlander.
I am afraid, Mr (or Mrs) EntirelyForced, that, when it comes to arguing that Zorro is a superior film, your argument is entirely forced.