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A newly arrived governor finds his province under the control of the corrupt Colonel Huerta. To avoid assassination by Huerta, he pretends to be weak and indecisive so Huerta will believe he poses no threat. But secretly he masquerades as Zorro, and joins the monk Francisco and the beautiful aristocrat Hortensia in their fight for justice against Huerta and his soldiers.
For more about Zorro and the Zorro Blu-ray release, see Zorro Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 20, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Duccio Tessari
Starring: Alain Delon, Ottavia Piccolo, Stanley Baker
» See full cast & crew
Zorro Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 20, 2012
Duccio Tessari's "Zorro" (1975) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Somerville House. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailers for the film; radio spots; text-format biographies; photo gallery; and restoration comparisons. In English, without optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
When the honorable Miguel de la Serna (Marino Mase) is murdered, his close friend Diego de la Vega (Alain Delon, The Swimming Pool, Purple Noon) promises to finish what he has started and travels to Nuova Aragon, a region ruled by the evil Colonel Huerta (Stanley Baker, Hell is a City, The Guns of Navarone). Huerta is shocked to see the man who is to become the region's new governor because his assassins had already told him that he is dead, but welcomes him with open arms. Immediately realizing that his life is in danger, Diego begins acting like an indecisive fool, thus giving Huerta the impression that he could easily manipulate him.
Meanwhile, the brave monk Brother Francisco (Giampiero Albertini, Many Wars Ago, Burn!) openly confronts Huerta and urges the residents of Nuova Aragon to stand up for their rights. The young and beautiful Contessina Ortensia Pulido (Ottavia Piccolo, Mado, Bubu) also sides with him. But Huerta threatens to kill Brother Francesco and arrests the Contessina after she rejects his advances. Having seen enough of the injustice his murdered friend had told him about, the governor becomes Zorro, the dressed in black defender of the poor and oppressed.
By modern standards this French-Italian production may not seem terribly impressive, but many years ago it was a film that meant a lot to a lot of people across Europe. I remember my local theater used to show it at least once a year, for at least a month, together with another film starring Alain Delon, La tulipe noir a.k.a The Black Tulip, as well as the now virtually impossible to see Sandokan (the theatrical version), with Kabir Bedi and Philippe Leroy. People from all ages would flock to see Zorro, sometimes twice in a row.
I think that there are two very simple reasons why Zorro was such a massive success story in the late '70s. First, it had Alain Delon, already a huge star in Europe where his films were screened in virtually every town with a theater. The likes of Le Samouraļ, Red Sun, and Borsalino had made a big impression even on people who did not pay attention to the big European festivals, where the success of films such as L'eclisse and The Leopard had already made Alain Delon a star. The media's continuous coverage of Alain Delon and Romy Schneider's relationship had also helped enormously in popularizing the French actor's image outside of his home country.
The second reason is the film's attractive exotic look (and not necessarily the Zorro character, as earlier films about him, such as Rouben Mamoulian's film from the early '40s, were never really as popular across Europe). The spaghetti westerns had already created a lot of fans who would see anything that was considered exotic (this is one of many reasons why the various Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill films also became so popular) and Zorro definitely appealed to them.
Ultimately, while not a flawless film Zorro is an enormously charming and undoubtedly very entertaining film. It has a certain atmosphere which modern adventure films can no longer create. The fact that it does not try too hard to impress also makes it look quite innocent. This is something I really like.
Zorro was lensed by Giulio Albonico (Liliana Cavani's The Guest, Pasquale Squitieri's Gang War in Naples). The film's popular soundtrack was composed by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis (Enzo Barboni's Trinity Is Still My Name, Enzo G. Castellari's Keoma).
Zorro Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Duccio Tessari's Zorro arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Somerville House.
The presentation is what I expected it to be - far from flawless but still decent enough to enjoy the film. The high-definition transfer has obviously been struck from a dated source, most likely a master that was prepared quite some time ago, also most likely from dated elements. This isn't surprising because I personally have never seen a decent DVD release of Zorro presenting the film in its original aspect ratio. There was an Italian DVD release at one point, but the film was presented with the alternative Italian audio track.This English-language version of Zorro, which is also the original theatrical version of the film, looks fairly decent. It is rather soft, with various clarity and color fluctuations, especially during darker sequences, but most close-ups look acceptable. Grain isn't evenly distributed throughout the film but post-production degraining corrections have not been applied. Sharpening corrections to make the film look 'better' than it could also have not been performed. What this means is that even though there are portions of the film that look soft, the high-definition transfer has retained all of the grain that was on the master Somerville House had access to. In other words, the film does look dated, but it still has a filmic, though quite weak, look. Lastly, Somerville House have removed a good number of scratches and debris, but there are still various small specks and occasionally even dirt spots. All in all, this is a serviceable presentation of Zorro, which anyone familiar with the film's history on the home video market will undoubtedly appreciate. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Zorro Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Somerville House have not provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
Some light background hiss is occasionally easy to hear, but clarity and crispness are very good. During a few of the action sequences (most notably at the market place early into the film), there is even some decent dynamic movement. Some viewers are likely to notice that there are some very small sync issues, but this should not be surprising as the majority of the actors had to overdub their lines in English. There are no audio dropouts or serious distortions to report in this review.
Zorro Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Zorro Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I am pleased with Somerville House's Blu-ray release of Duccio Tessari's Zorro, and I believe that anyone aware of the film's very poor home video releases during the years will be as well. There are clearly different limitations with the presentation, but Zorro is the type of European adventure film that would have never received the lavish treatment major classic films do. This is just the reality. What Somerville House have done here is clean up the film as best as possible without degraining or sharpening it in the lab to make it look better than it could. It was the right thing to do. If you ever wanted to own a decent release of Zorro, this is the one to get, folks. RECOMMENDED.
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Zorro Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Zorro (1975) Blu-ray - October 11, 2012
Somerville House has officially announced the release of Zorro on Blu-ray. This marks the first time that this iteration of the masked swordsman has made it to HD. Starring Alain Delon (Le Cercle Rouge), Zorro cuts its way onto Blu-ray November 20th.
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