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(2004), PG-13 [PG-13*]
Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
November 4, 2004
58 out of 100

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(This section may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.


(2004), PG-13 [PG-13*] -- ...this 1998 film is not another "R-13*.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Amblin Entertainment, TriStar Pictures, Zorro Productions
Distribution (US): Columbia Pictures, Columbia TriStar, TriStar Pictures
Director(s): Martin Campbell
Producer(s): Doug Claybourne, David Foster, John Gertz, Laurie MacDonald, Tava R. Maloy, Walter F. Parkes, Steven Spielberg
Characters by: Johnston McCulley
Story: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Randall Jahnson
Screenplay: John Eskow, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Cinematography/Camera: Phil Meheux
Music: James Horner
Film Editing: Thom Noble
Casting: Pam Dixon
Production Design: Cecilia Montiel
Art Direction: Michael Atwell
Viewed on: Columbia Tri-Star Home Entertainment DVD

Before California was California, there was the Fox ... Zorro.

The first Zorro was Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. before talkie films. Another Zorro was Guy Williams slicing "Zs" into the shirt of plump Sgt. Garcia of the 1950s TV series. Surrounding those two keystones of the Zorro theme have been a plethora of look-alikes and wannabes ... until Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas.

The plot has not changed much ... still a battle of a freedom fighter and defender of the oppressed with an oppressive Spanish military. But this time, the Zorro mask is passed on from one generation to the next.

The film opens with Don Diego de la Vega, aka, Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) thwarting the plans of the military governor, Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) to murder three nameless innocent peasants from the population. The goal? To maintain rule by fear. Leading the oppression for Montero was the sadistic Capt. Harrison Love (Matt Letscher). Lurking nearby was Mexican General Santa Anna ready to dispatch Don Montero and all other Spanish Dons (territory governors) into their graves to take the California territory for Mexico.

Among the crowd witnessing the intended execution murder were two young brothers: older Joaquin (Diego Sieres, later Victor Rivers) and Alejandro Murrieta (José María de Tavira, later Antonio Banderas). All in the crowd are willing to risk life and limb to help Zorro but these two boys do something about it. In an opportune moment, Joaquin and Alejandro topple a statue perched high above a group of Spanish soldiers poised to ambush Zorro. The boys actually saved Zorro's life. Zorro rewarded the boys with a special medallion of solid silver, hanging it around Joaquin's neck.

Realizing that Santa Anna was near, Zorro declared this ride into thwarting the Spanish would be his last and rode to the embrace of his beautiful wife, Esperanza (Julieta Rosen) and to the side of his loving baby daughter, Elena (María Fernández Cruz and Mónica Fernández Cruz, later Catherine Zeta-Jones).

While enjoying a warm kiss and embrace from Esperanza, Zorro found that Don Rafael Montero appeared in his home with a dozen or so soldiers to arrest Zorro. In the ensuring melee, Esperanza was killed by a bullet meant for Zorro. Broken and weak, Zorro was then carted off to prison where he spent 20 years. Also in that melee, Elena was kidnapped by Don Rafael to be his own daughter. The daughter of his love-interest, Esperanza was the best he could have since he could no longer court Esperanza. Elena de la Vega became Elena Montero and grew to beauty and stature befitting a princess, just like her mother.

In those 20 years, Joaquin and Alejandro grew to become bandits. Following a foiled attempt to capture the brothers which left about five soldiers (three visible) tied naked to a cluster of cacti, Capt. Love managed to again corner the brothers. Rather than be captured, Joaquin committed suicide. Love then beheaded him (off screen - severed head seen later). Alejandro grew from that point into drunken uselessness ... until Zorro found him.

In a "sidewalk" bar, a drunken Alejandro tried to sell a silver medallion to buy another glass of whiskey, the same medallion Zorro placed around Joaquin's neck 20 years earlier. Don de la Vega, who recently escaped prison, just happened to be strolling by and noticed the medallion. Striking Alejandro into submission, de la Vega asked him where he got the medallion. From that point, Alejandro became Zorro's protege.

There is a great deal more to this 129-minute film, but I do not wish to spoil it for those who choose to view it. My job is to provide mom/dad with the information they need to be in a better position to make an informed decision whether a film is fit for their family. That is where I will go next.

This film has a rather interesting scoring distribution not often noted in PG-13 movies.

The Impudence/Hate (I) investigation area found that programming was amazingly lite in profanity for a PG-13 film. With only five uses of profanity and two uses of anatomical slang the film was equivalent to a PG in the comparative baseline database. [Lev. 26:19, Mal. 4:1]

The Sexual Immorality (S) investigation area found material which might be described as precursor to the modern PG-13 films with the vulgarity that used to be associated with R-rated films. There was flash partial female nudity plus sex games with a sword where Zorro clipped Elena's clothes from her upper body and she played Lady Godiva with her hair. There was also full rear male nudity of three men. [**, 1Cor. 6:9]

Drugs/Alcohol (D) noted drinking. drunkenness and smoking equivalent to some R-rated films. [Eph. 5:18]

Offense to God (O) was completely absent of any use of God's name in vain with OR without the four letter expletive, of any form of witchcraft, sorcery, wizardry, Satanism or any other such practice. There were, however, instances of the portrayal of a man being able to forgive sins against God [Matt. 9:6], denial of it being sinful to dishonor parents [Eph. 6:2] and show lust for murder. [1John 2:16]

Murder/Suicide (M) found one suicide to avoid capture and a couple killings which were clearly murder. But most of the killings/deaths were due to military and/or defensive actions and were difficult to discern as murder. So, most killings and deaths were incorporated into the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area. [Prov. 28:17]

I saved discussion about the findings by the first of the six CAP investigation areas, Wanton Violence/Crime (W) for last because of the severity of the contribution of violence to the overall content. The Wanton Violence/Crime content of this film caused the loss of all of the starting 100 points in Wanton Violence/Crime due to many forms of violence. Indeed, on the data entry logs are 60 spaces for entering observed instances of violence. The equations which compute the scoring had to be modified to accommodate the overflow for this film which presented 88 instances of violence. Examples included: extensive sword play; impalement deaths; gunfire killings; dungeon brutality; a severed head; attempted mass murder, including of children; more, much more. Though heavily violent, there was surprisingly little gore. [Prov. 3:31]

With a final score of 58 this 1998 film is not another R-13 but not far from it. It earned a place among the collection of PG-13 films in the comparative baseline database, not that you should take comfort in that. It is merely four points above the top of the scoring range earned by R-rated films (54 and below out of 100) in the comparative baseline database. The biggest reason this film did not earn a "R-13" score is that most the individual instances and episodes of assault on ethics and morality were not as severe or extreme as typically used in R-rated films (See the CAP Rule of 1000).

While the film's final score was indeed equivalent to some "hardcore" PG-13 films, the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area found content clearly equivalent to many R-rated films. Also equivalent to some R-rated films was the content revealed by the Drugs/Alcohol investigation area. The Sexual Immorality score was the only investigation area score for which the film earned a score equivalent to PG-13 movies. Impudence/Hate, Offense to God and Murder/Suicide found material equivalent in mathematical magnitude to PG or G-rated films in the comparative baseline database. These three "high steppers" are what prevented the final score from falling into the scoring range earned by R-rated films, saving this film from becoming yet another "R-13."

Please inspect closely the listing in the Findings/Scoring section before deciding whether to view this film with your family.


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  • Lev. 26:19 I will break down your stubborn pride [arrogance, self exaltation] and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. [Yes, it is arrogance and self-exaltation which gives us the haughtiness to violate clean speech.]
  • Mal. 4:1 "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. ** "Nakedness" (display of nudity) is spoken of as dark, restricted, undesirable, shameful, etc. 47 times in the KJV from Genesis to Revelation. For example, Ezek. 16:36 "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers,..." thus associating display of nakedness with ill repute. What makes display of nudity okay in entertainment/art if it is not okay in flesh?
  • 1Cor. 6:9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. ["Wine" can be any intoxicating substance. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk. A recent study has found an undeniable link between the presentation of alcoholic beverages and tobacco in and as entertainment and abuse of them by adolescents. And teaching/causing youth to abuse alcohol/tobacco by emboldening youth with them in and as entertainment invokes Luke 17:2]
  • Matt. 9:6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."
  • Eph. 6:2 "Honor your father and mother "-which is the first commandment with a promise -
  • 1John 2:16 For everything in the world -the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does -comes not from the Father but from the world.
  • Prov. 28:17 A man tormented by the guilt of murder will be a fugitive till death; let no one support him.
  • Prov. 3:31 Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways,

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Rom. 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The heart of the CAP Analysis Model)

    The Mask of Zorro (1998) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • civil unrest, extensive
  • attempted triple execution murder with repeated views
  • firearms to control, repeatedly
  • gunfire killings, repeatedly, some graphic
  • sword impalement, repeatedly, some fatal, some with injury
  • sword fights, repeatedly, some extensive, some intense
  • several deaths at the hands of children
  • gunfire to kill, extensive
  • intentional scarring with sword
  • knocking unconscious to control/subdue
  • arson to punish
  • brutality, repeatedly
  • gunfire to disable
  • firearm threat to the head
  • gunfire to injure, repeatedly
  • beheading (unseen) for trophy - severed head shown later
  • blood-soaked bad carrying severed head
  • dungeon brutality
  • dead bodies
  • physical assault, repeatedly
  • two-man sword fights, repeatedly, some graphic
  • sword play training, partly torturous
  • action violence, frequent, some long and intense
  • threat with sword to throat/chest/face, repeatedly
  • order to kill, repeatedly
  • massive property destruction by arson/explosion
  • mine operations slavery/brutality, repeatedly, including of children
  • death with lite gore
  • planning large-scale deceit resulting in massive theft
  • severed head
  • severed hand
  • sadism
  • planning mass murder for cover up
  • attempted mass murder, including of children
  • deaths by sword, repeatedly
  • fire peril of hundreds, including children
  • death by fall

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • five uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • vandalism
  • anatomical slang, twice
  • "father" using daughter as extortion tool

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • full rear male nudity, of three
  • rude gaze, repeatedly
  • inappropriate touch
  • excessive cleavage/breast exposure, repeatedly
  • stripping woman from waist up with sword (sex game with sword)
  • flash upper female nudity
  • open face kissing, twice

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • snuff
  • drunkenness
  • alcoholism
  • booze
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • smoking, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O)
  • portrayal that a man can forgive man's sins
  • denying the sin of dishonoring parents and lusting
  • lust for murder

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • gunfire suicide
  • in-prison murder by slamming head into prison stone wall
  • choking murder, graphic



    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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