One of my favorite movies is The Mark of Zorro (1940) starring Tyrone Power, Basil Rathbone, and Linda Darnell. There is a 1920 silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks and a 1974 made-for-TV version with Frank Langella in the lead role titled The Mark of Zorro. Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, and Katherine Zeta-Jones revived the story with The Mask of Zorro in 1998 and a sequel The Legend of Zorro in 2005.
The 1940 Mark of Zorro remains my favorite. The story is simple, gets to the point (pun intended) quickly, and in my opinion has one of the best sword-fighting scenes ever filmed.
The plot is as follows:
Don Diego Vega (Tyrone Power) is urgently called home by his father. To all outward appearances, he is the foppish son of wealthy ranchero and former Alcalde Don Alejandro Vega (Montagu Love), having returned to California after his military education in Spain.
Don Diego is horrified at the way the common people are now mistreated by the corrupt Alcalde, Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg), who had forced his father from the position of Alcalde. Don Diego adopts the guise of El Zorro (“The Fox”), a masked outlaw dressed entirely in black, who becomes the defender of the common people and a champion for justice….
In the end, Don Diego must contend with the governor’s ablest henchman, the malevolent Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone). He eventually dispatches the Captain in a fast-moving rapier duel-to-the-death, forcing a regime change; Don Diego’s plan all along.
Both Power and Rathbone were excellent swordsmen. Watch this wonderfully choreographed swordfight. You will note that Power and Rathbone are “out of distance” for the sake of safety. Nevertheless, their skill is evident:
Here’s a bit of film trivia. A scene from the 1940 The Mark of Zorro is projected on the wall along with other black and white films in Minority Report.
Using Classic Films to Teach the Christian Worldview
Classic movies are excellent teaching tools for a Christian worldview—for children and adults. Classic movies are often heavily dialogue-based, which provides a necessary counterpoint to the visually stimulating and soundbite-driven modern method of moviemaking. Real life is about real conversations, and classic movies provide a great virtual training ground for thinking and living in the real world of ideas and consequences. Also includes illustrated PDF ebook that helps to reinforce and explain the concepts.Buy Now
So, what’s the lesson of Zorro? Don Diego Vega could have returned to California and immediately challenged the new oppressive government and most likely would have been imprisoned and executed. Instead, he laid low, did not reveal his abilities, made friends and alliances with others who were equally disturbed by the turn of events, and worked his way into the belly of the beast by seemingly aligning himself with the corrupt Alcalde.
All the time, Zorro is undermining the power structure of the Alcalde’s hold on the people. Zorro only unmasks himself and takes on the power structure represented by Captain Esteban Pasquale when he has everything in place.
While the dominant culture is dominating, there are times and circumstances when it is circumspect not to tip your hand while you are building a network of opposition to replace those wielding the rapiers. Talk is cheap.
Branch Rickey worked behind the scenes before he publicly introduced Jackie Robinson to the Major Leagues. Numerous actions had to be in place to make the transition that he knew was going to be difficult. Once Robinson began playing, the ability of some clubs to keep blacks out of baseball had been muted. It didn’t mean the opposition stopped, but there wasn’t much that the opposing teams could do about it. Before long, other teams joined the Dodgers in recruiting blacks players. It was the quality of black players that made the difference, and the other teams wanted some of that quality because in time it would mean more people in the stands and more money in the pockets of the owners.
Why are so many big companies becoming more “woke”? Because they believe that’s where the money is. They see conservatives as inconsequential since they are not unified and can’t or won’t compete against the prevailing culture.
There are different tactics in today’s cultural war. Upfront fighters engage in battle and take the brunt of the blows. There are numerous websites that we frequent daily. They have been targeted. Those who work there may never get a job anywhere else. The same is true of some politicians. We know where they stand, and they also are frontline fighters.
But not everyone can be or should be a frontline fighter. They are like Zorro. They have skills. They keep their worldview masked. The goal is to find employment in the belly of the beast, do excellent work, make themselves indispensable, and hopefully recruit people like themselves to get hired. The goal is never to sabotage a company. The ultimate objective is to replace the kooks and crazies by doing better work than they do.
The following is from Arnold Kling’s Foreword to Martin Gurri’s book The Revolt of the Public:
With his eyes on this altered media space, Martin Gurri saw what was coming. He saw that the elites would be increasingly despised, as more of their mistakes and imperfections became exposed. He saw that the elites would respond to the public with defensiveness and contempt, but that this would only make the public more hostile and defiant towards authority. He saw that the public’s new-found power does not come with any worked-out program or plan, and as a result it poses the threat of nihilism. If the existing order is only torn down, not replaced, the outcome could be chaos and strife.
There is no longer a unified field of authority. There are disparate groups vying for power but with no viable center of ultimate authority. Individualism is fragmenting an already weakened approach to reality. Power is the name of the game. But as Kling points out, the elites are increasingly despised.
We need to turn this in our favor. Wishful thinking won’t make it happen. Criticism is the first step, but it does not change anything. Craftsmanship overtakes the horns of power (Zech. 1:18–21).
Culture 101: Christ is King Over All
Culture 101 is a much-needed primer on how to live out the Christian worldview. Jesus said to ‘do business’ until He returns, and that means living and working in the world. Christians are sometimes given the idea that only ‘spiritual’ pursuits are worthy of the true Christian, but this is a misguided view. The truly spiritual Christian will have great impact in all areas of life, including business, entertainment, and art.Buy Now