Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

The American Experience

  • The Hunt for Pancho Villa
  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $69.95
  • Date: Copyright 1993. Released 1993.
  • Descriptors: Mexico - History. Villa, Pancho. United States - History - 20th century.
  • Production Information: Live action, Archival footage, Stills. Produced by Hector Galan, Paul Espinosa. Directed by Hector Galan. Narrated by Linda Hunt. Color, b&w. Closed captioned. 60 min.
  • Production Company: WGBH (Boston)
  • Available from: PBS Video 1320 Braddock Pl. Alexandria, VA 22314-1698 (703)739-5380
  • ISBN: ISBN 0-7936-1053-2.
  • Cataloging: 972.0816 Villa, Pancho, 1878-1923||Mexico - History - Revolution, 1910-1920||United States - Relations - Mexico||Mexico - Relations - United States
  • Print Entry #: 5:1026
  • Reviewer: Graham Maughan

    Francisco "Pancho" Villa grew up on a hacienda in northern Mexico. At the age of 15 he came home one day to find his mother desperately trying to prevent the rape of his sister. Obtaining a pistol from a neighbor, he fatally shot the assailant, whereupon he fled to the Sierra Madre Mountains to live the life of a bandit for the next 15 years. When the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, he came down from the mountains to join the effort to overthrow dictator Porfirio Diaz, marching triumphantly at the head of his army into Mexico City in December 1914.

    Originally a friend of the United States who sought to protect the extensive American interests in Mexico, Villa became a bitter opponent of the Americans when the Woodrow Wilson administration recognized his archrival Cristiano Carranza as president of Mexico in the fall of 1915. On 9 March 1916 Villa with 600 soldiers attacked the New Mexican border town of Columbus, leaving 17 townspeople dead and much of the town in flames. Wilson mobilized tens of thousands of troops and launched a military expedition, called the Punitive Expedition, into Mexico to find and kill Villa. Before the US military forces returned home, Mexico and the United States would be on the brink of war.

    The bulk of The Hunt for Pancho Villa examines and explores the multifaceted character of the attempt to run Villa to ground. Using a wonderfully edited mix of interviews with participants in these events and historians from both sides of the border, archival footage, stills, and dramatic readings from letters of the famous and unknown, the program enables the viewer to understand a tangled set of events. Linda Hunt's narration is measured and professional, succumbing neither to a monotonous recitation nor melodramatic rendition of events. Especially helpful to the viewer is the frequent identification through subtitles of those interviewed.

    This program, an episode in PBS' The American Experience series, is quite engaging, richly informative, and unquestionably valuable in understanding US-Mexican relations in the early part of this century. It informs the viewer about important developments in modern Mexican history as much as it brings to life a fascinating series of events in US history. A worthy addition to any library, it is particularly recommended for public libraries in the Southwest and all high school libraries.

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