Fiction is fun, but don't mess with the history

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Mask of Zorro (1998 movie)

While historical novels are the main subjects here, there's room for an occasional tirade directed at one of Hollywood's frequent crimes against historical accuracy - as if real history is not interesting enough or obscure enough to the average moviegoer. It's an old one, but the 1998 Mask of Zorro deserves mention as an especially egregious mishmash of a few historical events and characters thrown into a farcical horse opera plot. It would be entirely unworthy of mention here except for the inclusion of one historical character with connections to my adopted hometown of Santa Cruz, CA.

One of the baddies in the film is Captain Harrison Love, who hunts down and kills the notorious bandit Joaquin Murrieta and his accomplice "Three-Fingered Jack. He then cuts off Murrietta's head and keeps it preserved in a jar of alcohol. This much is historical fact, but pretty much everything else in the story is fiction, including a brother who escapes to become the successor to the original Zorro.

The real Harry Love (1810–1868) was the head of California's first law enforcement agency, the California State Rangers, and became famous for allegedly killing the notorious bandit.  Love later retired to a homestead on present-day Love Creek, near the town of Boulder Creek in Santa Cruz County, CA.

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