It's based on the life of William Walker, who became the president of Nicaragua for a year as part of an attempt to start English-speaking colonies in Latin America under his own control. He planned to have them join the U.S.A. as slave states. Our president at the time even recognized his government as the legitimate Nicaraguan government. Walker was born and raised here in Tennessee, in Nashville. He is mentioned in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind. I don't remember having heard of him before seeing this film.
Our country surely has spawned more than its fair share of fruit-cakes.
quote from the film:
Think of it, Sir, from ocean to ocean. And the women, Colonel, My God, the women! Bare-breasted beauties under trees laden with fruit. Think of it. Seven to every man.Manifest Destiny, indeed.
Some of it is amusing, and the political parallel it draws is compelling, but I do not recommend it. If you want political satire, watch Being There or The President's Analyst or Duck Soup. If you want an acid western, watch Dead Man or Zachariah or Dead Man's Bounty.
Alex Cox's Walker incorporates many of the signposts of William Walker's life and exploits, from his original excursions into northern Mexico to his trial and acquittal on breaking the neutrality act to the triumph of his assault on Nicaragua and his execution.Slant Magazine says,
The film was shot in the late 1980s, right in the middle of an illegal U.S.-sponsored war against Nicaragua and remains topical today as a scandalous portrait of nightmarish American arrogance in the name of expansion and gobbling up resources. The film is equally cutting in its evisceration of Christian values in the name of mass violence, and of Western self-willed ignorance of other cultures.Senses of Cinema also discusses its politics. DVD Talk calls it a "black comedy" and says, "Walker's Gonzo approach to its subject found few friends among critics." Roger Ebert closes by saying, "this movie's poverty of imagination has to be seen to be believed." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 40%.