Cesar Chavez

| July 22, 2014

Cesar Chavez is the gripping biopic about the most important Hispanic activist in American history, which boasts an all-star cast that includes Michael Peña, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson and Academy Award®nominee John Malkovich.

This film brings to life the inspirational story of the man who moved millions to join the fight for social justice. Directed by Diego Luna (Abel) from a screenplay by Keir Pearson and Timothy J. Sexton and story by Keir Pearson, Cesar Chavez tells the story of a man who inspired millions of Americans from all walks of life to fight for social justice. His triumphant journey began in Delano, California, and led him across the United States and to Europe where he tirelessly fought for reform. Cesar Chavez chronicles this incredible story and is a remarkable testament to the power of one individual’s ability to change the world.

Peña is fantastic as the revolutionary with a quiet disposition who got the job done, as he fought for basic human rights for farm workers throughout California and ultimately the world. I hadn’t realized Chavez’s impact on farm workers before watching this film, and I was glad that I had a chance to see it. Ferrera is equally as good as the considerate but patient wife, who watches as Chavez endures five months going without food until he can get an agreement from the major grape farms that his workers, who have joined with the Filipino workers, would get fair pay for the work that they are doing. Malkovich is also good as the stern vineyard owner, who doesn’t want to bow to the demands of the workers. He and his contemporaries would rather try to hire other workers to break the strike than pay fair wages.

Chavez’s work with organizing the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers Union) is to be commended everywhere. The workers, as portrayed in the movie, were not nearly as comfortable as they should have been, considering their contribution to the companies for whom they worked. The fact that Chavez even went to London and, in a demonstration of his anger with the grape suppliers, tossed a crate of grapes into the river, was excellent illustration of the problem. The workers’ plight became as much a moral issue as well as human and workers’ rights  and economic issues. Shortly afterward, the grape suppliers agreed to a contract with Chavez, which was the best thing for all involved. Chavez’s quiet, non-violent resistance to the problems faced by the farm workers was shared in the movie, as well as his relationship with Senator Robert Kennedy, who worked on the Subcommittee for Migratory Labor, and did much to help Chavez’s cause.

Cesar Chavez, which also stars Rosario Dawson and John Ortiz, is a great film that is out July 22 on DVD, Blu-ray, Digital HD and Video On Demand from Lionsgate.

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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