Week 4_Salt of the Earth

Week 4_Salt of the Earth - RTVF 188: Alternative Cinema(s)...

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Unformatted text preview: RTVF 188: Alternative Cinema(s) Today: HUAC and Hollywood The influence of Italian Neorealism on Salt of the Earth Screening: Salt of the Earth (Biberman, U.S., 1954) Discussion: representation of gender, labor and Mexican-American identity in 1950s U.S. (Re)definitions Verisimilitude v. realism not the same thing, though related: Verisimilitude: an impression of believability created by the story (even in non-realistic films like The Wizard of Oz) Realism: the aesthetic depiction of subjects as they appear in everyday life, seemingly without embellishment (but still artful) Narrative v. documentary film not the same thing Narrative: A story that depicts a sequence of fictional or nonfictional events Documentary: Films that attempt to document actual reality Salt of the Earth: A narrative film based on real events -- but not a documentary HUAC and the Hollywood Ten (Cold War era) HUAC = The House Un-American Activities Committee (1928-1975!) 1947: HUAC conducted 9-day investigation into alleged communist propaganda activity in the film and television industry Hollywood Ten: 10 U.S. entertainment professionals who refused to answer committee questions, convicted of contempt of Congress blacklisted by the entertainment industry and sent to jail. Many Hollywood industry careers were ruined. Protesting jailing of the Hollywood Ten Salt of the Earth - Background Screenwriter Michael Wilson, director Herbert J. Biberman, and producer Paul Jarrico were blacklisted. Independent Productions Corporation: film co. of blacklisted personnel that financed SotE 5 professional actors The rest were non-professionals from Grant County, NM Included members of the International Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers Many had participated in strike on which film was based. Ramon (Juan Chacn) was actual union local president. Criticized by U.S. House of Representatives for being a Communist film Salt of the Earth - Background Repudiated by the U.S. House of Representatives as Communist American Legion called for a nation-wide boycott of the film. Film-processing labs were told not to work on SotE Edited in secret Unionized projectionists were told not to show it. Only 12 theaters in the country agreed to screen it. Influences of Italian Neorealism Story about contemporary issues: actual working and living conditions of working people Sensitivity to issues of economics, social class Relationship between individuals and the larger communities Use of nonprofessional actors Shot on location Shot in black and white Realist aesthetic evident Examples? Differences from Italian Neorealism More highly plotted More cross-cutting throughout the film to establish and maintain dramatic tension Esperanza going into labor/Ramon being beaten Use of voice-over narration Use of flashbacks More shots from low angles that render ordinary men and women heroic Sensitivity to issues of not only economics, social class but also labor politics, gender and ethnicity Closure and happy ending Examples? Low angle shot: women silhouetted against sky Change in gender roles Crisis: Ramon and Esperanza Esperanza: transformed over time ...
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course RTVF 188 at San Jose State University .

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