Saturday, November 2, 2013

#686: Redes

(Emilio Gómez Muriel and Fred Zinnemann, 1936)

The first half of Redes left me a little cold. It was obvious how huge the influence of the film had been on future Latino cinema and other socially conscious cinema - especially films about labor and worker's rights. But having seen so many of the films that followed in its wake lessened the impact of the story, and while the footage itself was impressive and worth watching, I didn't see the spark of cinematic innovation that made the film historically important and timelessly impressive.

The last few sequences of the movie did away with this dispassionate stance. Redes final half is beautiful, lyrical, and moving. It's an angry but hopeful work, like all great political cinema must be, and even if things haven't changed as much as its filmmakers probably hoped they would, it's easy to see what films like this have done in the ensuing 75 years - and just what they can be capable of.

I've never fished for a living in Mexico in the 1930s, but Redes shows me what that might be like. Better yet, it does this with both a documentarian approach (which was the film's original intention) and an impressionistic touch. The quick cut montage at the end of the film is both high art and deeply grounded in the world of its characters. Seeing moments like this in films from the 30s is a humbling experience - seeing it come not just outside Hollywood but outside any studio system is a reminder that great art is rarely driven by commerce. In 2013 just as in 1936, it is an outsider's responsibility to tell stories that aren't being told. But it is their prerogative to tell them in a way that has never been done before.

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