Watched this yesterday. Great film and a definite top ten, as others have already mentioned.
It’s a complicated story with some very simple yet profound truths.
A lot of people in the U.S. don’t care for the politicized nature of Zapata westerns, which I have a hard time understanding since our nation was born from revolution against non-representative government. In the case of this film, the cause of the revolutionaries seems just; they’re only guilty of choosing the wrong revolutionary path. I suppose films like El Chuncho, quien sabe? are viewed as anti-capitalist, since it about peasants and farmers revolting against the ruling class.
The film makes an important statement about the use of violence to overthrow corrupt and violent governments and oppressors, as well the ability for money to corrupt noble causes. While the cause of El Chuncho may have been just, when he and his fellow rebels murder the capitalist leader of the San Miguel, it clearly shows that they’ve fallen to an even lower level, replacing one violent regime with another.
Yet, you’re somehow sympathetically drawn to this charismatic, but uneducated character.
The erosion of Chuncho’s principles is clearly seen in his abandonment of the people of San Miguel, an act that nearly costs him his life, and culminates in his acceptance of gold for the killing of the revolutionary leader, General Elías. But in the end he recovers, kills the greedy gringo assassin and returns to his roots. A good ending.
There are a few faux paux:
The saguaro cacti aren’t real convincing and look badly out of place.
Early in the film Niño is able to wear his gun holster around unchallenged after telling the story of having to steal a pistol in order to stop the train. Seems obvious he’s had a gun all along.
Excellent role for Klaus Kinski, however, and a well done screen play with an outstanding musical score. It’s a great film!