This week, I had the great pleasure of watching the controversial film, Salt of the Earth--and I completely understand why it ruffled so many feathers.
"Based on an actual strike against the Empire Zinc Mine in New Mexico, the film deals with the prejudice against the Mexican-American workers, who struck to attain wage parity with Anglo workers in other mines and to be treated with dignity by the bosses. The film is an early treatment of feminism, because the wives of the miners play a pivotal role in the strike, against their husbands wishes. In the end, the greatest victory for the workers and their families is the realization that prejudice and poor treatment are conditions that are not always imposed by outside forces." [IMDb]
This movie was amazing and definitely ahead of its time. Salt of the Earth dealt with racism, classism, and sexism in the most realistic and human way--and with movies like this, you'd expect a "white Savior" to swoop in, but surprisingly, there wasn't one--a very rare occurrence in American film then and now.
|Teresa Vidal (played by Henrietta Williams) speaks up at a union meeting.|
The film was beautiful to look at (especially in the beginning--it reminded me of the cinematography in 1937's The Good Earth) and the people were beautiful to look at--the cast (a mixture of professional actors and local citizens) blended so well together, like a choir with tight harmonies.
We watch each character--especially our main characters--Esperanza and Ramon Quintero (played by Rosaura Revueltas and Juan Chacón)--evolve into better people: the women, who are clearly strong and outspoken from the beginning, are able to showcase their strengths when their husbands' power is stripped from; the men become more understanding of their wives, their wives' capabilities, and even the housework that they once deemed "easy women's work".
|Ramon and Esperanza Quintero (played by Juan Chacón and blacklisted star, Rosaura Revueltas)|
I highly recommend that you watch this film--it's a very important film with an important (and still relevant) message.
Salt of the Earth (1954) (Youtube Link)