Salt of the Earth

1954

Drama / History

0
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 83%
IMDb Rating 7.4 10 3138

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
March 21, 2021 at 07:45 PM

Cast

Will Geer as Sheriff
720p.BLU
847.7 MB
968*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 32 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Dr.Mike 10 / 10

More Than Just A Blacklisted Film

Salt Of The Earth is best known as a blacklisted film made by many of the artists whose lives were destroyed by HUAC and the complicity of the film industry. While the film's very exsistance is a tribute to the determination of the artists to do the right thing and not be silenced, it is much more than that. It is also a moving film tribute to the underclass of America who suffer greatly due to injustice and inequality. The film portrays the strike of Chicano mine workers in New Mexico. Their demands, which the company took 15 months to meet, included such outrages as safety, equality, and indoor plumbing. The most interesting aspect of the film is the way in which the women of the community are forced to take a leading role. By linking the oppression of the workers to the workers' oppression of their wives, the film becomes not only a pro-union film but also a feminist one. The story is stirring, and the scenes where the women are attacked for standing by their men are unforgetable. Salt of the Earth probably has more to do with everyday American lives than 99 percent of Hollywood films. Its humane portrayal of regular people fighting for their rights cannot help but awaken the common elements in us all.

Reviewed by heatmise 9 / 10

America at its Best

This film has a rare and beautiful honest quality seldom seen to this magnitude in pictures. Made during the height of McCarthyism in the 1950s it was produced completely by a blacklisted crew and professional cast. The film itself was banned in the U.S.A. by congress until the late 1960s. The picture is based on a true story of Mexican-American mine workers on strike in New Mexico. It deals with the wives of the miners having to to step up and work the picket lines in place of their husbands who were legally banned from picketing. Many of the cast members were actual participants in the original strike and the leading lady was deported before the film was even finished. The story of the struggle to make this film would actually make a good film. Ironically the film is very patriotic and shows what truly makes America great; it's people. A strong man and woman's picture with a genuinely beautiful fighting human spirit. It's one of a kind.

Reviewed by alice liddell 8 / 10

Inspirational.

There are times when it's important to throw away your formalist baggage and celebrate a film for what it is. SALT OF THE EARTH is so inspirational, so brave, so winning, yet so forthright and angry, that you forgive it any faults. The period from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s is the darkest in American history, the closest the country has ever come to fascism. In the name of 'America', panic was spread throughout the country not unlike the early years of Nazi Germany, where communists, liberals and general non-cowards were smeared and demonised. Of course, there were no concentration camps, but many lives and careers wre ruined, people forced abroad for succour and their livelihood, lies became truths, all with the collusion of Hollywood and the media. Anything not fitting a narrow, conformist, terrified social desire was deemed 'UnAmerican', a gross, Orwellian perversion of the term.

Most filmmakers went along with this state of affairs, some prosecuting, others dobbing in their former friends and colleagues. Any director wanting to be critical - eg Sirk, Ray - had to do so covertly, sublimating their protest through genre, form or allegory. What is so heartening and jolting about this film is that it dares to say out loud what it means. This is not surprising, as all the key crew members had been blacklisted and director Biberman had served six months for not cooperating with the HUAC. It is not negative, but celebratory. It is, as the dedication implies, a most American film, a light of liberty in a very unAmerican darkness. Of course it was banned, the production undermined by the government, the FBI and local vigilantes, while Rosaura Revueltas, the Mexican actress in the lead, was repatriated, never to work again.

SALT OF THE EARTH tells the story of Esperanza (hope), a poor New-Mexican housewife living in impoverished, insanitary conditons, whose husband Ramon works in salt mines once owned by her grandfather, now exploited by vicious American capitalists. Conditions in the mines are appalling, and after a fatality due to deliberately lousy safety measures, the men go on a strike which stretches out for months, intimidating incoming scabs. When the corrupt sheriff slaps a court order on them, their wives take up striking duty.

Of course, the film is a riposte not only to latterday 'America' but also the Hollywood that served it. Demonised as red propaganda, it is anything but - propaganda is an attempt by the ruling class to brainwash its subjects through lies and false promises; this beautiful film is a statement from an embattled peoples with no voice in the mainstream media. This film breaks all the rules (for once one can say this and actually believe it!). Its subject matter is work, the working classes, the right to work. It features no Hollywood stars (indeed, many of the actors, as in an Italian neo-realism film, are locals), no racist melting pot aspirations, but genuine ethnic people with their own culture and customs. In a reversal of current Hollywood practice, it is the white man who is marginalised and demonised.

What is remarkable about the film, which is essentially a plea for help, is how politically sophisticated it is. It would have been perfectly understandable for the filmmakers to simplify their message in the current political climate, but they hearteningly refuse to do so. Although the fascist mine-owners and lawmen are clearly villains, the film explores the tensions within the very patriarchal New-Mexican community itself. The union links workers' rights with racial equality, but the men do not extend this to women. But this is the story of a woman, a meek housewife who is transformed into an active worker, a full woman, someone with a voice and a very powerful role in society. Like a Hollywood film, SALT does dramatise its social subject matter around one main couple, but this crystallises, rather than dilutes, the issues. The men see the increasing power of the women as further humiliation of their power, but divided by gender the New-Mexicans have no power, they are despondent, starving, at the mercy of sadistic capitalists. Together they have extraordinary power, culminating in the remarkable evicition scene, a rare celebration of group power in the American cinema - one of that cinema's most powerful scenes.

Esperanza moves from a position of having no voice in society, no public arena like the men in which to speak, indeed barely a space in her own home, where her dreams and desires are transferred to a radio playing other people's songs; to a political activist, someone who does not limit her life to housework and children, indeed demands her husband does his share, and this is represented by her narration, her power to tell and control a story, to speak authoratively for a people, to translate for us their language.

The 'emasculation' of the men provides the film with some of its funniest scenes, but there is a darker side to New-Mexican masculinity - the implied wife-beating, for example. In one of the most heartbreaking sequences, despondantly humiliated, they see a magazine picture of their enemy about to go out hunting, 'a man of distinction', and they decide to imitate him, erasing themselves, their pride and responsibilities. It is their lowest ebb.

Like I say, the film has its flaws. There is a naivete to the neo-realist model that allows for a proto-hippy idealism that is not always convincing. The strongly political form of the film sometimes slips into the drama, making certain scenes seem didactic and unreal. Sometimes you wonder what a Bunuel might have done with the material. But this is an honorable treasure in the American cinema, which should always be shown to remind us that we do not always have to cow to tyranny.

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