Araya (1959)


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Shown at Cannes in 1959, the year after Venezuela's last dictator Marcos Perez-Jimenez was overthrown, the documentary inadvertently highlights the kind of exploitation of the poor that can lead to rebellion. While the dictator escaped to Miami with $13 million, salt workers were piling up mounds of salt on the flat sands, making barely enough money to keep them in arepas and black beans. Between the hot, tropical climate and the sores on their feet, the job these workers do every day is excruciating. Yet the lives of the fishermen and salt workers in this documentary are shown in the context of planned, upscale development, something of a disservice to the larger picture. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi


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Critic Reviews for Araya

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (10)

This expertly restored black-and-white work is a thing of wonder.

Apr 9, 2010 | Rating: 3.5/4

This astonishing documentary, so beautiful, so horrifying, was filmed in the late 1950s, when an old way of life had not yet ended.

Jan 14, 2010 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Like the late famed anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the movie wants to find a culture and explain it to the world. Araya finds a degree of romance in that discovery, and is weaker for it.

Dec 22, 2009 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Margot Benacerraf's starkly beautiful 1959 documentary Araya is the rare film whose austere stylistic impersonality is a key aspect of its elemental power.

Nov 6, 2009 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

It cares so passionately about its subjects that you will as well.

Nov 5, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Are you one of those moviegoers who likes discovering forgotten gems? Have I got a jewel for you.

Oct 23, 2009 | Rating: A | Full Review…

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