Antonio Banderas (Spy Kids, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) delivers a powerful, larger-than-life performance as the title character of this incredible true story of how Mexican Revolutionary, Pancho Villa, allowed a Hollywood... more » crew to film him in battle, altering the course of film and military history in the process. The adventure gets its start when early movie giants D.W. Griffith (Colm Feore) and Harry Aiken (Jim Broadbent), send a junior executive, Frank Thayer (Eion Bailey) to Mexico to persuade the cash-strapped, publicity-hungry Villa to let them film his revolution. Stepping into the literal crossfire, Thayer's crew risks their lives in the mingling of fiction and reality. After a string of dangerous exploits, narrow escapes and double-crosses worthy of a silent action short, Thayer and Villa make their movie, and "The Life of General Villa" is released in the U.S. to popular acclaim. The film changes the public opinion in Villa's favor and proves that "the lens is mightier than the sword." DVD Features:
Audio Commentary:Audio commentary with writer/executive producer Larry Gelbart
Jerry S. from OCEANSIDE, CA Reviewed on 8/5/2013...
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jon G. from DELHI, CA Reviewed on 8/14/2009...
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Banderas at his charismatic best!
Michael Meredith | St. Louis, MO United States | 07/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Maybe it's all true, maybe it's partially true; but in any case, And Starring Pancho Villa... is a very satisfying movie. But the difference between a 2 star rating and a 4 star rating here is solely due to the presence of Antonio Banderas in the lead role.
It sounds like such a cartoonish idea, moviemakers tagging along with an army of revolutionaries. But then in the silent movie era of 1914, New Jersey actually was the movie making capital of the world.
The subtext to all of this is that through his experience and relationship with General Villa, his erstwhile film producer Frank Thayer matures from young gofer to influential executive. But that is nothing more than a plot device. When Banderas is not on screen, the movie loses a step or two. He gives a superlative performance that is worthy of such a controversial (and underrated) historical figure.
Viva Villa! Viva Banderas!"
A surprise preformance, solid production but...uneven.
H. Hodgkin | Montana | 12/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Antonio, my hat is off to you. Who could have guessed how good you really can be? I have been watching movies for over 50 years, and never have I seen a better job of portraying a multifaceted character while never for one second letting go of his true identity. Bravo! As to the movie itself, it exhibits production values and attention to detail far beyond the Hollywood norm, and unheard of in television studio production. The history, the hardware and the costumes, were all excellent. Unfortunately as one of my fellow reviewers has already pointed out, Senior Banderas' inspired performance, the highly polished production, the good presentation of factual history and the stellar performances of many of the minor supporting actors carried the entire production. The script was poorly conceived and crafted. The plot line was confused, confusing and lack luster. The direction was safe and adequate, but not nothing more. Worst of all, the other lead actors were either uninspired or just not really all that good at what they do. Next time, HBO, spend a buck or two on a director who knows the wide screed and on supporting leads who can carry their weight. Still, this is not a horrible picture. Senior Banderas' Tour-de-force performance and the highly polished accuracy of the production make it well worthwhile. I don't think that the movie's intent of showing an accurate picture of the early days of Hollywood was fulfilled. However, they got the history right, not always an easy thin to do."
A Very Solid Movie
R. Nelson | San Francisco, CA | 11/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've just watched this movie and was curious to see what others had thought about it. I was so suprised to see how low the star ratings were that I felt compelled to comment. I can't say much for it's historical value, but the movie itself is thoroughly entertaining - which is why I watch movies in the first place. Though I was never a fan of his - Antonio Banderas was awesome in this! The production value was on par with the major motion picture industry, this isn't your low budget 'made for tv' flick. If you like westerns, this is a good, solid film that will fit nicely in that genre."
Maybe Not History, but Good Fiction
John C. Mucci | Wilton, CT USA | 01/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When making this kind of historical fiction, too many people expect that it is going to be a documentary; it isn't anything like that. This film is an interesting, ambiguous study of how perceptions can change by being validated by something bigger than they: something like the movies, which in itself is an absurd premise, but something that we live with every day. I wish the characters in the flim were better referenced, as I know D.W. Griffith, Charles Rosher, Christy Cabanne, and others are part of the plot as in real life, but I couldn't tell you who they were in the production, as their attributions went by so fast. Villa as a villain and charismatic leader of the masses has a built-in paradox to it, as does the documentary format in film in any case. It is a pity that the original film doesn't exist any longer (along with 90% of silent film that was made, unfortunately), especially as it was under D.W. Griffith's auspices, when the rest of his oeuvre exists down to the last reel."
Best acting Banderas ever did
Joan E. Drakos | Roy, Utah | 07/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this movie with my friend who was raised and still lives in Torreon, we loved it. My friend has many stories, told to him by his grandmother, who was from Chihuahua. Whether or not a movie by D.W Griffith ever existed, this one was certainly well done. Antonio Banderas did a wonderful job as Pancho Villa. Villa was the epitome of good and evil. He believed in Mexico and wanted to be the Robin Hood of his time, by the same token, it was too a heavy burden for any man to bear. If you don't see this movie you are cheating yourself out of a wonderful piece of history."