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THE MASK OF ZORRO

About The Locations

The production spent close to three weeks filming the town plaza sequences before moving on to the next big set, Montero's hacienda. Located in the tiny village of Tetlapayac, in the state of Hidalgo, the massive, breathtaking structure nestled against a small mountain range still contains some original sections dating back 400 years. The lower level of the elegant courtyard was given over to an orchestra, and a dance floor was erected for a particularly seductive dance sequence between Zorro and Elena.

The largest set built for The Mask of Zorro was Montero's gold mine. Built on the site of an abandoned cement quarry outside the small town of De Atotoniclico de Tula in Hidalgo, the set took six months to build and used 80 tons of wood and three tons of nails to construct. A prerequisite for anyone working at the gold mine was that they have no fear of heights. That applied to filmmakers, crew, actors, and especially extras since, on several occasions, the shooting schedule called for 500 extras to be on the set, many of them ambling high up on the walkways that crisscrossed the mine. Filming at the gold mine was arduous and challenging for everyone involved. When shooting high up on the side of a cliff, only those crew members essential for getting the shot were permitted in the area.

The Talamantes prison scenes were shot in Santa Maria Regla, which is outside the town of Pachuca, also in the state of Hidalgo. Filmmakers found an extraordinary 100-year-old abandoned foundry whose basement storage area proved an ideal stand-in for the dungeon. The filming of the cave scenes took place on a set designed like an elaborate lair and constructed out of a styrofoam form painted to resemble stone. The scenes shot here, where de la Vega instructs Murieta in the art of swordplay and the mastery of the whip, were particularly important to the overall production. "The cave scenes were crucial," explains Campbell. "They represent the heart of the movie, the coming together of the two characters to continue the legacy of Zorro."

By that point, Hopkins had become so proficient with the whip that he choreographed a sequence for the interior cave scene when his character is teaching the younger Zorro how to use the whip as a deadly weapon. He presented the scene to Campbell, who says, "It was a great idea and we put it in the movie. It's one of the best scenes in the film."

The production finished its location filming at one of the most scenic coastal areas in Mexico, in and around Guyamas in the state of Sonora. The filmmakers took advantage of the unspoiled beauty there to film Montero's return to Alta California, with a now grown Elena in tow, after a 20-year exile in Spain.

Interiors for The Mask of Zorro were filmed at Churubusco Studios in Mexico City.

The filming of this epic adventure was an exhausting, but ultimately satisfying process for the director. "When I initially said yes to the project," says Campbell, "I didn't realize how enormous it was going to be. But at the end of the shoot, when all the screaming, yelling, and grueling work was done, it was a truly unique experience."

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