The Legend of Zorro

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The Legend of Zorro
The Legend of Zorro poster.jpg
Directed by Martin Campbell
Produced by Walter F. Parkes
Laurie MacDonald
Lloyd Phillips
Screenplay by Roberto Orci
Alex Kurtzman
Story by Roberto Orci
Alex Kurtzman
Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio
Based on Zorro 
by Johnston McCulley
Starring Antonio Banderas
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Rufus Sewell
Nick Chinlund
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Phil Meheux
Edited by Stuart Baird
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • October 24, 2005 (2005-10-24) (US)
Running time
129 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $75 million
Box office $142.4 million

The Legend of Zorro is a 2005 swashbuckler film and sequel to The Mask of Zorro (1998), directed by Martin Campbell. Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones reprise their roles as the titular hero and his spouse, Elena, and Rufus Sewell stars as the villain, Count Armand. The film, which takes place in San Mateo County, California, was shot in San Luis Potosí, Mexico with second-unit photography in Wellington, New Zealand.[1]


In 1850 (nine years after the events of the first film), California is voting on whether to join the United States of America as a state. A wild gunman with wooden teeth, Jacob McGivens, attempts to steal some ballots, but Zorro chases after him and recaptures the votes. In their scuffle, McGivens pulls off Zorro's mask. A pair of Pinkerton agents recognize him as Don Alejandro de la Vega. Zorro fashions a makeshift mask from his costume and rides off on his stallion, Toronado, to deliver the votes to the governor. Upon returning to his mansion, Alejandro is greeted by his loving wife, Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Elena believes that Alejandro can now give up being Zorro, but Alejandro is sure that the people will still need him. The next day, after sending their son, Joaquin to school, Elena is confronted by the Pinkertons, who disclose their knowledge of Zorro's identity. Soon after, Alejandro is served with divorce papers from Elena, which she was forced to do.

Three months later, Alejandro, living in a hotel, is depressed over the separation from Elena and having not been summoned as Zorro ever since the divorce. His friend and childhood guardian, Father Felipe, convinces him to attend a party at French Count Armand's new vineyard, and there Alejandro finds out that Elena has been dating the count. Later, after leaving the party and getting drunk, Alejandro witnesses a huge explosion close to Armand's mansion and becomes suspicious of Armand. Afterwards, McGivens and his men attack a peasant family, the Cortezes, who are Alejandro's friends, in order to seize their land deed. Zorro succeeds in rescuing Guillermo's wife and infant son, but McGivens shoots Guillermo just before disappearing with his gang, the deed to the Cortez home in hand. Zorro subsequently stakes McGivens out at Armand's mansion and discovers that Armand wanted Cortez's land to build a railroad. He encounters Elena, and learns that Armand will receive a mysterious shipment. Zorro tracks McGivens to a cove where the count's cargo is being delivered. However, on a class trip nearby Joaquin has also come across McGiven's gang and hitches a ride.

Zorro saves his son from the bandits, but the only clues he is able to retrieve are a piece of the cargo, a bar of soap, and the name Orbis Unum from a crate lid. Felipe and Alejandro learn that Armand is the head of a secret society, the Knights of Aragon, which secretly ruled Europe in the past. Armand plans to throw the United States, which is perceived as a threat to the Knights' power, into chaos before it can gain too much power. Sometime later, Alejandro is captured by the Pinkertons who inform him of their blackmailing Elena into divorcing him and getting close to Armand to discover his plans; since California isn't yet a state, they couldn't conduct a legal investigation. Joaquin stumbles upon his father's whereabouts and frees him from prison. Zorro heads over to Armand's mansion, meets Elena, and eavesdrops on Armand's meeting, learning that the soap bars contain glycerin - a precursor to nitroglycerin, which Armand plans to distribute throughout the Confederate Army, with the help of Confederate Colonel Beauregard, to destroy the Union. Zorro and Elena reconcile concerning her involvement with the Pinkertons, and Zorro prepares to destroy the train carrying the explosives. McGivens arrives at Felipe's church to look for Zorro, but ends up shooting the priest and kidnapping Joaquin.

At the mansion, Armand is informed by his butler, Ferroq about Elena's deception and, showing her the bodies of the Pinkerton agents, brutally confronts her with his knowledge. He takes her and Joaquin hostage on to the 10 car train, forcing Zorro to stop his own sabotage and getting himself captured. He is unmasked in front of his wife and son, much to Joaquin's shock. Joaquin and Elena are taken away by Armand, while McGivens is tasked with killing Alejandro. Unexpectedly, Felipe arrives and helps Alejandro overpower McGivens, who is killed when a drop of nitro lands on his head. Felipe then reveals that the crucifix around his neck shielded him from McGivens' bullet, and Alejandro goes to save Elena and Joaquin. Zorro catches up with and lands - along with Toronado - inside the 8th car of the train, and engages Armand in a sword fight. Meanwhile, Elena has Joaquin escape into the back cars of the train which she disconnects. She then fights Ferroq in the nitro storage car, and both he and Colonel Beauregard are killed in an explosion.

Joaquin collects Toronado and rides after the train by jumping off the running train. Further along the tracks, under the eyes of a huge crowd, the governor is signing the bill to make California a state. As the train gets closer, Joaquin has Toronado hit a track switch, causing the train to pass around the governor's car. Zorro and Armand's duel takes them to the very front of the locomotive; however, the track is a dead end, blocked by a large pile of rails. Zorro hooks Armand to the train and escapes with Elena. The train plows Armand into the block, killing him and causing the nitroglycerin to detonate, destroying the train. With Zorro as an official witness, the governor later signs the bill, and California becomes the 31st state of the United States of America. Later, Felipe remarries Alejandro and Elena with Joaquin as the only witness. Alejandro apologizes to his son for not telling him the truth, and he admits that Zorro's identity is a family secret rather than just his own. Elena then allows Alejandro to continue being Zorro, accepting him of who he is and Zorro rides off on Toronado to his next mission.


Alternate ending[edit]

An alternate ending, included on the DVD, shows a grown-up Joaquin putting on the costume and riding off into the sunset, following his father and maternal grandfather Diego de la Vega's (portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in The Mask of Zorro) footsteps as Zorro, as the elderly Alejandro and Elena watch proudly. This was changed to the theatrical ending in order to allow for future sequels with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Historical references[edit]

The Legend of Zorro features a fictional monument called Bear Point, commemorating the site where the original Bear Flag of the California Republic flew briefly in 1846. Although the actual flag flew in Sonoma County, the film suggests that Bear Point is located in San Mateo County.

The Legend of Zorro continues its predecessor's inclusion of historical elements of California history into the fiction, though many liberties have been taken. Alejandro, the Mexican-born Californian who became Zorro at the end of The Mask of Zorro, is a fictional brother to Joaquin Murrieta, for whom the character's son Joaquin is named. Military governor Bennet Riley, the last of California's heads of state prior to statehood, is portrayed, but the Maryland-born American is played by the Mexican actor Pedro Armendáriz Jr., and speaks English with a Hispanic accent. Leo Burmester plays R. S. Beauregard, a Confederate colonel whose character is not to be confused with the historical P. G. T. Beauregard. Pedro Mira plays pre-Presidential Abraham Lincoln as an observer to California's statehood, though the real Lincoln never traveled to the region.

The Legend of Zorro, which takes place in 1850, includes a significant number of deviations from history, particularly in depicting an organized Confederate States of America and a (presumably, though this is not explicitly stated) completed First Transcontinental Railroad, each more than a decade before their times. Furthermore, a deleted scene on the film's DVD features a short discussion on a magic lantern presentation. Additional deviations include a quote from the Gettysburg Address, which would not be written until 1863. A map discovered by Zorro delineates two states (Arizona and New Mexico) that did not achieve statehood until 1912. Several other states depicted on the map were also entered into the Union long after California.

The film also features characters who identify themselves as agents of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which had just been established in the year 1850, and at the time was known as the North-Western Police Agency.


The Legend of Zorro: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by James Horner
Released October 25, 2005
Recorded 2004–2005
Length 75:34
Label Sony
James Horner chronology
Flightplan The Legend of Zorro
The New World
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
SoundtrackNet 3.5/5 stars

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Collecting the Ballots"   3:27
2. "Stolen Votes"   6:31
3. "To the Governor's... And Then Elena"   4:05
4. "This Is Who I Am"   3:05
5. "Classroom Justice"   1:50
6. "The Cortez Ranch"   6:35
7. "A Proposal with Pearls / Perilous Times"   3:58
8. "Joaquin's Capture and Zorro's Rescue"   5:00
9. "Jailbreak / Reunited"   5:36
10. "A Dinner of Pigeon / Setting the Explosives"   5:04
11. "Mad Dash / Zorro Unmasked"   3:20
12. "Just One Drop of Nitro"   2:40
13. "The Train"   11:11
14. "Statehood Proclaimed"   5:00
15. "My Family Is My Life..."   8:14

Critical reception[edit]

Critical reaction to The Legend of Zorro was mostly mixed to negative. The film currently holds a rating of 47 out of 100 on Metacritic,[2] and a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[3]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a below-average review, awarding it one and a half stars (out of four), commenting that "of all of the possible ideas about how to handle the Elena character, this movie has assembled the worst ones."[4] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave The Legend of Zorro two stars (out of four), saying that "the action is routine", "the chemistry between the two leads, which was one of the highlights of The Mask of Zorro, has evaporated during the intervening years", and that the movie "fails to recapture the pleasure offered by The Mask of Zorro."[5]

Stephanie Zacharek of praised the film, calling it "entertaining, bold, and self-effacing at once", noting the civic and parental questions it raises.[6] Slate Magazine critic David Edelstein also praised the film, in particular the action scenes, villains, and chemistry between Banderas and Zeta-Jones.[7] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said the film was "watchable—not remotely enjoyable, but watchable."[8] Nathan Rabin of The Onion‍ '​s A.V. Club gave the film a lukewarm review, saying that "director Martin Campbell doles out action sequences stingily" but added that "The Legend of Zorro still feels like a half-hearted shrug of a sequel."[9]

Brian Lowry of Variety said that The Legend of Zorro is "considerably less charming than The Mask of Zorro" but added that the film "gets by mostly on dazzling stunt work and the pleasure of seeing its dashing and glamorous leads back in cape and gown."[10] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly awarded the film a "B-" score. Schwarzbaum said that "too many scenes emphasize gross butchery over the elegance of the blade", but added that the film is "well-oiled" and praised the "fancy fight sequences".[11]

Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post reacted negatively, calling The Legend of Zorro "a waste of talent, time, and money" and "stupid and boring".[12] Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle was also not impressed, remarking that "there are precious few things for a Zorro fan – or a film fan, for that matter – not to loathe about The Legend of Zorro."[13]


The film did reasonably well at the box-office, grossing $142,400,065 internationally, but did not match the success of its predecessor.[14]


  1. ^ The Legend Of Zorro To Shoot In New Zealand
  2. ^ "The Legend of Zorro Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  3. ^ "The Legend of Zorro". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  4. ^ Roger Ebert (October 28, 2005). "The Legend of Zorro". 
  5. ^ "Review: Legend of Zorro, The". Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  6. ^ Stephanie Zacharek (October 28, 2005). "The Legend of Zorro". Salon. 
  7. ^ David Edelstein (October 28, 2005). "Laugh Laugh Scream Scream". Slate. 
  8. ^ LaSalle, Mick (2005-10-28). "This guy just can't hang up his mask". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  9. ^ Rabin, Nathan (2005-10-26). "The Legend Of Zorro | Film | Movie Review". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  10. ^ Lowry, Brian (2005-10-23). "Variety Reviews - The Legend of Zorro - Film Reviews - New U.S. Release - Review by Brian Lowry". Variety. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  11. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (2005-10-26). "The Legend of Zorro Review | Movie Reviews and News". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  12. ^ Hunter, Stephen. "The Legend of Zorro". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  13. ^ "The Legend of Zorro - Film Calendar". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  14. ^ "The Legend of Zorro (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 

External links[edit]