Rosaura Revueltas, sister of Silvestre Revueltas, is possibly best known for her role in Salt of the Earth. Salt of the Earth was the only movie to ever be blacklisted during the “Communist Scare” of the 1950s. Rosaura was warned by a number of people that due to the political implications of the film that this might be the last movie she would make. The question is, why would Rosaura Revueltas chose to be in this film considering the potential backlash and the probable loss of her career?
Director Herbert J. Biberman faced a great amount of difficulty in finding an actress to play the role of Esperanza Quintero. The film was one of the first to advance the feminist social and political point of view. It centered on the strike against the Empire Zinc Company in Grant County, New Mexico. Hispanic workers wanted equal treatment to that of the Anglo workers. In an interview with Cineaste, Rosaura reveals that she was recommended to Biberman by her dance instructor. Throughout the interview, Revueltas discloses her past knowledge of the films potential backlash, but she never reveals why she still chose to be a part of the project.
“Before making the film I was warned. The first person to warn me was my husband, who belonged to a rich German family. He told me, “You are now beginning your career and you have only made three films, but they have been prize winners. If you make this film you won’t make anything else.’ I said, ‘It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll make it even if I don’t work again, because I knew what was going to happen.”
What was happening in the United States at this time related to what was going on in various parts of the world. The Mexican Revolution was fought over equal rights and the rise of the common man. I believe it is very possible that this cause touched Rosaura’s heart because it so closely resembled what she had lived through in her native Mexico. It could also have been because of kinship, she was watching injustice being done to her people. It is also well known that this film was one of the first to advocate female rights. If Rosaura was anything like her brother, her views probably were more liberal. Regardless, it was something she was willing to lose her career over.
During the filming of Salt of the Earth, Rosaura Revueltas was arrested and deported on alleged passport violation. The director and others associated with the film ended up a part of the Hollywood Ten, blacklisting their careers in Hollywood. Rosaura Revueltas was an incredible woman for taking on a role many others refused. She showed courage in advocating female rights and the social injustices being done to minorities. I might never know her reasons behind willingly choosing to take on such a controversial role, however, it is apparent that Rosaura Revueltas was a dauntless woman.
– Jamille Brewster –
Sacks, Karen. “Salt of Earth by Paul Jarrico, Michael Wilson, Rosaura Revueltas”. American Anthropologist, New Series, 79/1 (March 1997): 205-206.
Riambau, Esteve. “This Film Is Going to Make History: An Interview with Rosaura Revueltas”. Cineaste, 19/2 (1992): 50-51.
Stevenson, Robert. “Silvestre Revueltas.” Grove Music Online http://0-www.oxfordmusiconline.com.lib.utep.edu/ (accessed February 27, 2017).
Taruskin, Richard. “Nationalism”. Grove Music Online http://0-www.oxfordmusiconline.com.lib.utep.edu/ (accessed February 27, 2017).