Photo courtesy of Canana Films
Cesar Chavez once organized 50,000 farm workers to help him represent them as an official organization to fight the injustice that was ignored by authorities.
Chavez did not expect to be a hero, let alone, have a movie produced in his honor. Chavez was a humble man that demanded the justice his people were promised. He saw that the immigrant community was stuck in poverty and no one was willing to fight for better wages, let alone some appreciation. This was the perfect opportunity for Chavez to lead a revitalization movement, to have people on their feet instead of their knees.
Starring Michael Peña as Cesar Chavez, America Ferrera as his wife, Helen Chavez, Rosario Dawson as Dolores Huerta and John Malkovich as Bogdanovich Senior, the co-owner of the industrial grape farm that opposed Cesar Chavez’s argument to better work conditions, later known as the United Farm Workers. The picture is a documentary-style biography presenting Cesar Chavez as a civil-rights activist for the farm workers and labor organizer for the UFW.
Some critics said that the director, Diego Luna, depicted more of a Mexican Cesar Chavez rather than the Mexican-American origin because he is Mexican. The casting of the movie was itself a struggle by choosing the perfect actors to play these roles.
The real story was represented correctly and the Mexican origin was inevitable since most farm workers were Mexican. Other people were recognized as well for joining the UFW such as the Filipinos, whom brought great strength to the battle.
Throughout the movie, you gradually get to know Cesar Chavez as a man with hopes and dreams of a better future for his kids. Yet, you see the firm aggressor when he would speak to a mass audience about the next plan to attack the grape farm owners. His methods highly resembled those of Gandhi’s, involving non-violent civil disobedience. It was not easy to gather a huge crowd of angry workers to stay calm and strong-minded, but through his will, it was accomplished.
This biopic was released close to Cesar Chavez Day and the date of the parade that took place in San Francisco. It is safe to say that the date of release had a significant purpose to the Bay Area community as it contributed to the celebration. This helped show this generation, and perhaps future generations, the importance of his fight, especially since there is such a huge Latino population in California, and even more dense here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This movie was rated an average of 6.0/10 from critics according to IMDb.com. Personally, I rate it 8.5/10 for the simple fact that it was very entertaining and it came with great significance and excitement. Every part of this movie revealed more of Chavez’s personality and how it affected what he fought for. Essentially, he is just like everyone else with his battles against the world.
In the famous words of Cesar Chavez, “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”