"Salt of The Earth": Movie Review

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 735 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Sep 12, 2023

Words: 735|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Sep 12, 2023

Table of contents

  1. A Glimpse into History
  2. Bringing Realism to the Forefront
  3. A Lasting Legacy
  4. The Final Takeaway

Salt of the Earth, directed by Herbert J. Biberman and released in 1954, is a remarkable film that stands as a testament to the power of cinema to address pressing social issues. This movie essay delves into the film's historical context, narrative elements, and its enduring significance in the realm of cinema and social activism.

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A Glimpse into History

Salt of the Earth was released during a tumultuous period in American history. The 1950s were marked by the Cold War and the rise of McCarthyism, which sought to suppress dissent and left-leaning ideologies. Against this backdrop, the film's production itself became a remarkable act of defiance.

The film was made by a group of blacklisted filmmakers who had been targeted during the anti-communist witch hunts of the era. Many involved in the production, including director Herbert J. Biberman and screenwriter Michael Wilson, had been imprisoned for their political beliefs. Despite facing tremendous personal and professional risks, they persevered in bringing the story of the real-life Empire Zinc Mine strike to the screen.

The blacklisting of those involved in the production was not an isolated incident but a reflection of the broader political climate. McCarthyism had created an atmosphere of fear and censorship, stifling dissenting voices in the film industry and beyond. In this context, Salt of the Earth stood as a courageous act of artistic defiance, challenging the prevailing narrative and advocating for workers' rights and social justice.

Bringing Realism to the Forefront

Salt of the Earth tells the story of Mexican-American mine workers in New Mexico who go on strike to protest unsafe working conditions, unfair wages, and discriminatory treatment. The film focuses on the character of Esperanza Quintero, played by Rosaura Revueltas, who emerges as a leader and symbol of resilience for the striking women.

One of the most striking aspects of the film is its realistic portrayal of the lives and struggles of the characters. The majority of the cast consisted of non-professional actors, many of whom were actual mine workers. This authenticity lends the film a powerful sense of truth and urgency, making the viewer feel deeply connected to the characters and their plight.

The decision to cast non-professional actors was not merely an artistic choice but a deliberate act of inclusion. It allowed the voices of the marginalized and oppressed to take center stage. The film's dedication to authenticity and representation was a radical departure from the Hollywood norm of its time and a testament to its commitment to social justice.

A Lasting Legacy

Salt of the Earth remains a significant and influential work in the history of cinema and social activism. Its bold portrayal of working-class struggles and the resilience of marginalized communities was ahead of its time. The film's unflinching critique of racism, sexism, and labor exploitation still resonates today.

Furthermore, Salt of the Earth played a pivotal role in breaking down barriers in the film industry. It defied the Hollywood blacklist and gave voice to those who had been silenced. The film's production team's commitment to their principles, despite the personal risks, is a testament to the power of art to challenge the status quo.

The legacy of Salt of the Earth can be seen in the influence it had on subsequent generations of filmmakers and activists. It paved the way for socially conscious cinema that addresses issues of social justice and inequality. The film remains a touchstone for those who seek to use art as a means of raising awareness and promoting change.

The Final Takeaway

Salt of the Earth is a cinematic gem that continues to shine brightly in the annals of film history. Its historical context, powerful narrative elements, and enduring significance make it a timeless work of art. The film's ability to shed light on issues of social injustice and its unwavering commitment to telling the stories of the marginalized are a testament to the enduring power of cinema as a tool for social change.

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In a world where the struggle for social justice and equality persists, Salt of the Earth stands as a beacon of hope and a reminder of the potential of art to inspire change. It challenges us to confront our own biases and prejudices and to stand in solidarity with those who are marginalized and oppressed. As we reflect on the legacy of this remarkable film, we are reminded that the fight for justice and equality is an ongoing journey—one that requires courage, resilience, and the unwavering belief that art can change the world.

Image of Dr. Charlotte Jacobson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

“Salt of the Earth”: Movie Review. (2023, September 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
““Salt of the Earth”: Movie Review.” GradesFixer, 12 Sept. 2023,
“Salt of the Earth”: Movie Review. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 11 Dec. 2023].
“Salt of the Earth”: Movie Review [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Sept 12 [cited 2023 Dec 11]. Available from:
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