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Film Review

March 29, 2001

Richard Dunn

For Mexican history buffs, "Pancho Villa and Other Stories" is a

gripping personal portray of the legendary former rebel general of the

Mexican Revolution.

The 40-minute documentary provides a darker side to Francisco "Pancho"

Villa and graphic insight to his dealings with women, including an

interview with his former wife who was forced to marry him.

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"When he wanted a woman and she refused him, he'd kill her," she said.

"The day of my wedding, I was more dead than alive."

Villa, who later invaded U.S. territory and led American soldiers on a

wild goose chase all over the harsh Mexican countryside for months, was

considered "cruel" and "the most criminal man" by those interviewed in

the film.

In the documentary, Villa once ordered 80 women to be killed. An

execution of a man by firing squad is the film's most fascinating scene.

"Drink, but never get drunk, love without passion and steal, but only

from the rich," Villa once said.

The film said many movies in Mexico have been made about Villa, but

controversy continues today with different angles and stories.

In this documentary he was portrayed as a villain and murderer of his

own people, a la Joseph Stalin.

Along with Emiliano Zapata and Francisco I. Madero, Villa led peasant

armies to a swift victory over the corrupt and repressive regime of the

aging dictator, Porfirio Diaz, only to see Madero betrayed by reactionary

plotters.

At the end, one peasant said, referring to his country's continued

repression: "If Francisco Villa were alive, we wouldn't be in this

situation."

* "Pancho Villa and Other Stories" will screen at 2 p.m. Saturday at

Edwards Island 7 Cinemas.

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