Redes (as part of “Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project”) – The Criterion Collection #686 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 8, 2013 by Dennis Amith
Mexico was a country that was finding itself after the revolution and with the film business nearly extinct in the country, “Redes” was a film that help light the spark in jumpstarting Mexican cinema, especially the career for filmmaker Emilio Gomez Muriel (who assisted Fred Zinneman in dealing with the Mexican talent) who would become one of the Mexican directors who would have great impact for years to come. An important film from Mexico that inspires hope but also has its place in world cinema, “Redes” is a film worthy of inclusion in the Criterion Collection’s “Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project” and film that is highly recommended.
Image courtesy of © 2013 The Criterion Collection
TITLE: Redes (as part of “Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project”) – The Criterion Collection #686
RELEASE OF FILM: 1936
DURATION: 59 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, black and white, Monaural, in Spanish with English subtitles
COMPANY: Janus Films/The Film Foundation/World Cinema Project/The Criterion Collection
RELEASED: December 10, 2013
Directed by Emilio Gomez Muriel, Fred Zinnemann
Story by Paul Strand, Agustin Velazquez Chavez
Assistant Producer: Medoune Faye
Cinematography by Georges Bracher
Silvio Hernandez as Miro
David Valle Gonzalez as El acaparador
Antonio Lara as El Zurdo
REDES Early in his career, the Austrian-born, future Oscar winner Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity) codirected with Emilio Gómez Muriel the politically and emotionally searing Redes. In this vivid, documentary-like dramatization of the daily grind of men struggling to make a living by fishing on the Gulf of Mexico (mostly played by real-life fishermen), one worker’s terrible loss instigates a political awakening among him and his fellow laborers. A singular coming together of stunning talents, Redes, commissioned by a progressive Mexican government, was gorgeously shot and cowritten by the legendary photographer Paul Strand.
Paul Strand, the American photographer who helped establish photograph as an art form in the 20th century.
Henwar Rodakiewicz were a photographer that was connected to the photographic artistic scene and was known for his work as a writer, director and cameraman.
These two men known in the photography art community would eventually collaborate together in 1933 when Paul Strand began working on a documentary in Mexico. Invited by Mexican composer Carlos Chavez, who was working in the government promoting the arts under the socialist minister Narciso Bassols, with the help of Carlos’ son Agustin, the documentary would eventually become planned as a feature film.
This was important as Mexico was rebuilding after the revolution and with the film industry pretty much obsolete, the planned feature film “Redes” was born from this desire to jumpstart Mexico’s cinema. And for Carlos Chavez, cinema was a way to reach the masses.
Because Strand’s work was very artistic and incoherent, Rodakiewicz would write a short script.
But with only so much money, in the end, American filmmaker Fred Zinneman (“The Day of the Jackal”, “From Here to Eternity”, “A Man for All Seasons”) would eventually take on the project, but because of his lack of speaking or understanding Spanish, he would co-direct the film with Emilio Gomez Muriel who would translate and work directly with the actors. Strand would still be involved but with Zinneman directing, it would definitely lead to clashes between both men. Especially over the film’s visual style. It didn’t help that talent wanted more money, working conditions were not ideal and the equipment was much older.
But to be part of the jumpstart of Mexican cinema was fascinating for all those involved. The filming for “Redes” was shot in Alvarado with audio added later to the film and would be released in Mexico in 1936.
While compared to Italian Neorealism which characterized stories of the poor and working class, “Redes” was shot before the film movement but was inspired by Robert Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North” and early Soviet films. And the film would receive positive reviews in the U.S. and in Europe.
But in Mexico, the film was important in jumpstarting Mexican cinema. Mexican movies about Mexicans and in their native language and inspiring filmmakers, especially co-director Emilio Gomez Muriel, who would become an important director in Mexican cinema for many years to come.
And now “Redes” is among the several films selected by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project, a non-profit group that helps preserve and present marginalized and infrequently screened films from regions generally ill equipped to preserve their own cinema history. Giving these films a chance for restoration but also giving them exposure.
And “Redes” is included among six other films for the Criterion Collection’s Blu-ray+DVD release of “Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project”.
“Redes” which refers to fishing nets, is a film that is set in the fishing community of Alvarado on the Gulf Coast of Mexico.
Fishing has gone down, business owners are starting worry and the employees who were underpaid, now must worry about making money to support their families.
For Miro, this is difficult because his daughter is sick and needs medicine. He goes to his employer, asking for money which he would pay back with more work but his wealthy employer (portrayed by David Valle Gonzalez) declines as the economy is bad.
Miro’s daughter ends up dying and the young man buries his daughter and says, what kind of father is he when he can’t make enough money for medicine to save his own daughter.
And Miro is not the only one hurting, the other men who depend on fishing as their livelihood need to work to support their families and one day, more fish in the region is sighted and Miro and a group have another chance to make a lot of money that day.
And as the men work hard for 10 hours with a large number of fish and expecting a big payday, the employer is only willing to pay them a few cents per kilo. and the group are only paid over 70 cents for ten hours of work for a large amount of fish which would bring the employer a lot of money.
Meanwhile, a young political candidate (portrayed by Rafael Hiojosa) who is friends with the owner of the fish company tries to use the fishermen’s anguish to get votes but Miro and the fishermen are not convinced and think that the politician will lie to get what he wants.
As for Miro, he and the other fishermen organize their first meeting to protest the poor treatment they received from the fishermen. While Miro inspired many of the fishermen, some are not convinced that going against the establishment will work. Meanwhile, the young politician realizes that he’s not going to win with Miro causing the people to have distrust in him.
Will Miro and the fishermen have their voices heard?
“Redes” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1), black and white. Included in the special features was a featurette that shows how the restoration of the film shows much better contrast compared to how it looked before. Especially when it comes to detail in relation to the water and waves and the older version of the film looked muddier/murkier, so what people will see through this film is better contrast, especially with grays, whites and black levels.
According to the Criterion Collection, “Redes” was “created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the best surviving materials, namely a 35 mm safety duplicate negative and a positive print preserved at the Filmoteca de la UNAM in Mexico. The digital restoration, completed in May 2009, produced a new 35 mm internegative for long-term preservation.”
“Redes” is presented in Spanish LPCM 1.0 with English subtitles. Dialogue is clear and I didn’t notice any significant hiss, crackle or any major issues with audio during my viewing of the film.
“Redes (as part of “Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project”) – The Criterion Collection #686″ comes with the following special features:
- Martin Scorsese – (1:57) Filmmaker Martin Scorsese talks about watching “Redes”.
- Visual Essay on Redes – (7:42) A Criterion Collection 2013 featurette on the making of “Redes”.
“Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project – The Criterion Collection #685-690″ comes with a 66-page booklet featuring the following essays: “Recalled to Life” a foreword by Kent Jones, “Mambety and Modernity” by Richard Porton on “Touki Bouki”, “El cine mexicano” by Charles Ramirez on “Redes”, “River of No Return” by Adrian Martin on “A River Called Titas”, “The Law of Nature” by Bilge Ebiri on “Dry Summer”, “Power to the People” by Sally Shafto on “Trances” and “Crossing Borders” by Kyung Hyun Kim on “The Housemaid”. Each Blu-ray and DVD are housed in cases that come with a slipcase.
“Redes” is an important film in Mexican cinema. A film that would help jumpstart cinema during a time where barely any films were being made in Mexico, but also to help jumpstart the cinematic movement with Mexican filmmakers paving the way for more films about the country’s culture.
The film would bring together several big names in the photography and cinema community from the USA, Europe and Mexico and despite the challenges with different personalities, different visual styles and also talent who had their own protest, wanting more money and other factors that would cause the filmmakers some woe, fortunately the film was made.
“Redes” would foreshadow Italian Neorealism, about working conditions of the poor but what Carlos Chavez had wanted and that was for Mexican Cinema to be seen by masses not just in Mexico but all over the world.
But if you take away all the major players that was involved with this film and focus on the film at hand, what you have is a fantastic film that embodies a story of the human soul and to expose corruption.
Soviet cinema was an inspiration for this film, with films such as “Strike” showing workers fighting against corruption, for “Redes” it is a necessary film as it would become a voice for those who were struggling financially and being paid low wages.
We watch as one young man, who was hurt by the inability to pay for his daughter’s medicine and the family enduring the death of his daughter is a painful memory that haunts him. And the feeling that the fishermen have of making money on a day that produced a lot of fish, were a shock in the fact that they were underpaid.
No matter how much work they put in a 10-hour day, these men will not make money in a system where only the owner can be wealthy. And the politician who tries to win their votes by telling them that he will fight for them, is as corrupt as the wealthy business owner. But the redeeming character is Miro, a man who has lived through pain and the death of a loved one because of his corrupt boss with no moral compassion to give Miro enough money to rescue his daughter.
Miro is a symbol for hope in this film and he is the one that shows how unity among the workers is the necessary voice that can hopefully fight against corruption in the workplace.
And unfortunately, in today’s society, nearly 80-years after this film was made, these conditions and people being paid very low wages still exist in other countries. Practices that have long gone on for decades because the people are too scared to fight, to voice their opinion as their livelihood of their families depend on their job, no matter how low of a wage they make.
But no matter how old “Redes” is, the message is still relevant.
In Mexico for 2013, wages are much lower than China and economically, the country is struggling but at least there is a glimmer of hope as reforms are taking place and people are hoping for change. Whereas in other countries, no reforms, no voice and low wages, poor treatment continue to exist.
But this film was important as Mexico was a country that was finding itself after the revolution and with the film business nearly extinct in the country, “Redes” was a film that help light the spark in jumpstarting Mexican cinema, especially the career for filmmaker Emilio Gomez Muriel (who assisted Fred Zinneman in dealing with the Mexican talent) who would become one of the Mexican directors who would have great impact for years to come.
An important film from Mexico that inspires hope but also has its place in world cinema, “Redes” is a film worthy of inclusion in the Criterion Collection’s “Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project” and film that is highly recommended.
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