Tuesday, 23 December 2008


Salt of the Earth (1954) is an American drama film written by Michael Wilson, directed by Herbert J. Biberman, and produced by Paul Jarrico. All had been blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment due to their involvement in socialist politics. According to Linda Gross the film was called subversive and blacklisted because it was sponsored by the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers and produced by many members of the "blacklist." Prior to making the film the union had been expelled from the CIO in 1950 for their alleged Communist-dominated leadership.

The movie became a historical phenomenon and has a cult following due to how the United States establishment (politicians, journalists, studio executives, and other trade unions) dealt with the film. Salt of the Earth is one of the first pictures to advance the feminist social and political point-of-view.

In 1950–1951, in the fictional village of Zinc Town, New Mexico, the drama tells the story of a long and difficult strike led by Mexican-American and Anglo miners against the Empire Zinc Company. The film shows how the miners (the union men and their wives), the company, and the police, react during the strike. In neorealist style the producers and director used actual miners and their families as actors in the film.


The film opens with a narration from Esperanza Quintero (Rosaura Revueltas). She begins:

"How shall I begin my story that has no beginning? My name is Esperanza, Esperanza Quintero. I am a miner's wife. This is our home. The house is not ours. But the flowers... the flowers are ours. This is my village. When I was a child, it was called San Marcos. The Anglos changed the name to Zinc Town. Zinc Town, New Mexico, U.S.A. Our roots go deep in this place, deeper than the pines, deeper than the mine shaft..."

The issues the miners strike for include equity in wages with Anglo workers, and health and safety issues. Ramon Quintero (Juan Chacon) helps organize the strike, but at home he treats his wife as a second class citizen.

His wife, Esperanza Quintero, who is pregnant with their third child, is traditionally passive at first and is reluctant either to take part in the strike or to assert her rights for equality at home.

But she changes her attitude when the men are forced to end their picketing by a Taft-Hartley Act injunction. The women convince the men at the union hall, after a long debate, and proudly take their place in the picket line. (source Wikipedia)

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