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May 15, 2010

Salt of the Earth

It is the only black-listed American film ever. Produced by the people who were black-listed by the McCarthy era administration and whose names featured in 'Hollywood 50'(50 creative talents in Hollywood who were rumored to be communists and studios wanted nothing to do with them.)
Some of these 50 people started searching for good stories to be made into film thru' their independent production company when a strike by Local 890 of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union against the New Jersey Zinc Company in Bayard, New Mexico caught their attention. Salt of the Earth was born.

Shot on location with almost all non-actors, except for two, the film also addressed the growing concern of illegal immigration from south of the border, from Mexico. Although most of the real workers, most of them Chicano who were in the film where as much American as the 'anglos' or whites in the film, it is film that foresaw a lot of ground-breaking issues of American culture and politics like immigration, race and union issues.

To me it looked like a picture from my home state of Kerala, India. A state well-known for its communist leanings and hot-blooded workers who'd take up any cause to stage a march or a demonstration at the drop of a hat. Salt of the earth shows us that when it comes to the workers, the ones at the rock-bottom of social pyramid, issues are pretty much the same - whether it is in the US of the 1950s or India of 1970s.