Gun & Games: Blunders & Bloopers
No film is without its flaws. Like Lorna Doone, there may be only one that an acute observer would notice. Sadly, The Mask of Zorro is very flawed... but it never lessons the impact of fun it is to view this masterpiece. Some people might ask me why I would choose to point out the flaws in a film that I admire so much. Well, for one thing it's fun... and for another, it always gives you another reason to watch the movie...
Anachronisms: Set around 1841, a pressure gauge measures in metric units which did not become adopted in California until the 1860s.
Anachronisms: When Raphael descends the staircase to speak with Elena, who is passionately dancing with Alejandro, a round window can be seen behind him. Hanging down into the center, in a lantern, is a modern light bulb. It can be seen again behind Diego in another shot.
Anachronisms: In the scene where Zorro is taken away in the prison wagon, the lights of a large city are clearly visible in the background to the left of the screen.
Anachronisms: Elena has a nylon zipper on her dress in the last scene. Zippers were not used in the 1840's and nylon was not used for this purpose until after WWII.
Anachronisms: Alejandro Montero that says he came via Lisbon and San Francisco. In 1841, San Francisco was still Yerba Buena. The name change didn't occur until January, 1847.
Anachronisms: Alejandro and Elena dance the tango in 1841. The tango would not be invented until some 40 years later.
Continuity: During Alejandro, Joaquin, and Three-Fingered Jack's hold-up of the soldiers, the larger of Joaquin's two pistols swaps from his left hand in one shot, to the right hand in the next camera angle.
Continuity: In the scene where Don Diego is fighting Alejandro in the Cantina there are some hay stacks in the corner. When Alejandro attacks Zorro one of the hay stacks falls down but in the next scene it's up again in the corner.
Crew or equipment visible: When Zorro first appears, saving the men from execution he leaps down from a rooftop unto a balcony. Shot from overhead, it's quite obvious he lands on a stunt pad (the stone yields just like a cushion).
Factual errors: The Mexican flag appearing in the headquarters, when Zorro is fighting the soldiers, has the red and green areas reversed.
Revealing mistakes: When Don Rafael Montero shows a gold bar to the other Dons, he holds it only with two fingers, and shows no signs that it's heavy. A gold bar this size would be much too heavy for anyone to hold like that.
Revealing mistakes: All swords in the movie are very shiny and shimmering. Since swords are normally made of steel -which is a very dull material- this should not be like that.
Revealing mistakes: When he dismounts to stop the burning wick, it is obvious Captain Love's saddle cover is made of fake leopard skin material.
Revealing mistakes: At the end when Zorro kills Captain Love, you can see the safety ball on the end of the sword as Zorro holds the sword in his chest.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs: When Zorro's daughter meets her nanny in the market place, the nanny speaks to her. Though Zorro's daughter has lived in Spain for most of her life, the young girl has to translate because they are speaking a dialect she did not understand.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs: In the confessional, Elena says she broke the fourth commandment ("Honor thy Father & Mother"). Most translations state that the forth commandment is "Keep the Sabbath Day Holy," however, in the Catholic religion, she was correct.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs: When Zorro and Elena are having the sword fight in the barn, Zorro slashes his sword down the right side of her gown, revealing her bare thigh. Later, when he cuts her dress off, she is wearing pants. If you watch closely, he cuts through two layers of fabric... thus, she was wearing pantalettes under the long chemise.
Raphael Montero says, "What I'm saying, Captain, is that my horse could win this army better than you!" The proper grammar would be either, "What I'm saying, Captain, is that my horse could win this war better than you!" or "What I'm saying, Captain, is that my horse could lead this army better than you!"
Heather suggests that it is "What I'm saying, Captain, is that my horse could run this army better than you," which does make sense, but I've listened to that scene several times and cannot make it out. I suppose it could have been slurred badly --- and which is what probably happened.
Diego de le Vega, a wealthy Don and the "outlaw" to His Excellency, Don Raphael Montero. Why is it that no one ever notices that Zorro's eyes are a pale, almost transparent, blue in a world of dark-eyed, black-haired Spaniards and Mexicans? Wouldn't Montero be suspicious, even if he didn't know Diego was Zorro by the cut on his arm? Wouldn't this come to the attention of anyone even remotely connected with Zorro?
Alejandro is taught by Diego to be a gentlemen, formerly an outlaw who probably couldn't even write his own name. (He couldn't read ~ this is apparent in his asking Three-Fingered Jack, "How much are we worth?") And yet he doesn't hesitate to dance with beautiful Elena. How comes it that they both know the same dance? But more importantly, how did Alejandro learn it? Somehow I can't picture Diego and Alejandro cutting up the dance floor in practice, especially in that "spirited dance"! :)
Other Common Misconceptions...
Diego is a somewhat fair-skinned man with blue eyes and moderately light brown hair, his wife is obviously Hispanic, but has paler skin than his own, and they have a very dark child together (dark hair, skin AND eyes). At the end, we see Alejandro, a very dark (hair, eyes, skin) man and Elena, the dark (hair, eyes, skin) child of Diego and Esperanza, married and with a fair-haired Caucasian baby. I'm not an expert on genetics, but does that seem very likely to you that this would happen? :: Wipeout ::
I am not an expert on genetics myself, but it is possible for dark-haired, dark-eyed parents to have a light-eyed child. Elena's father had blue eyes, and normally, brown would overpower the blue gene in passing (the result for her own brown eyes), however, it is possible that Alejandro also had a blue gene. We know nothing of his parents - in all possibility, one might have had lighter skin and eyes. Also, it must be considered that many newborns have blue eyes, which change in time... likewise with the hair color.
Raphael Montero turns over most of California in land grants to the dons. Later, when he returns, Don Luez presents him with a small gold clip, saying, "This is a fool's apology for ever doubting you." When did he doubt?
The answer can be found in the novel version of the film. Apparently, a short scene was cut where Don Luez says, "You've given all the other Dons the most lush and well-worth land of California. Why do I get the barren dessert?" and Raphael replies simply, "Trust me, my friend."
Before the end of the movie, Alejandro is not wealthy; a mere apprentice to Zorro, and yet, at the end, we see him walking down a long and elegant corridor into the sunset. Where'd he get his money?
The answer is, of course, Elena. She inherited not only Diego de le Vega's money and titles, but those of Raphael Montero as well.
Elena doesn't seem the least bit distressed over the fact that Raphael, the man whom has cared for her since infancy, has just been killed, but rather fans over Diego, whom she has only known a short time.
Elena is more concerned with saying goodbye to her real father than crying over Raphael, simply because there's nothing she can do about her foster-father at that moment, and she knows that Diego will soon die.
Okay, when we see Elena in the barn, she's wearing a chemise, corset, and pantaloons. Why is it, then, later, at the mine, when she leaps over something, we see a stocking go up to about her mid-shin, and then a patch of bare leg? Why isn't she wearing the traditional under garb?
The answer was provided to this question in a series of articles I happened to read about the filming. It was SO hot on the mine set, in New Mexico, that Zeta refused to wear anything more than was necessary. Apparently this shot was overlooked and discredited.