S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
Venezuela | France
Benacerraf’s tour de force
ARAYA explores a day in the lives of three families living in Araya, an arid
peninsula in northeastern Venezuela. For centuries, since its discovery by the
Spanish, the region’s salt was collected and stacked into radiant white
pyramids. Benacerraf captures breathtaking and unforgettable images – from the
saliņeros toiling to build the mountains of salt, to fishermen hauling in huge
teeming nets, to a young girl and her grandmother laying “flowers” of shells on
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.
Theatrical Release: May 13th, 1959 - Cannes Film Festival
DVD Review: Milestone Cinematheque - Region 0 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover
CLICK to order from:
|Milestone Cinematheque - Region 0 - NTSC
Average Bitrate: 7.48 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0) / French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
|English (for Spanish soundtrack), None
by Margot Benacerraf
Beautiful film and beautiful DVD. The visual poetry of Araya is undeniable and my only regret is that this wasn't in 1080P - although perhaps one day.
Milestone Cinematheque's DVD of the restored film is a magnificent package. The image seems to scale above SD with consistent even grain and impressive contrast. I have no issues, whatsoever, with the damage-free image quality. There is a unremarkable but audible Spanish language track (and French option) and optional English subtitles for the documentaries narration.
Supplements are also well above standard starting with a commentary by Margot Benacerraf describing details of the production. We also get 'Reveron' - the first film by Margot Benacerraf - made in 1953 and running 23-minutes. It is offered with optional Benacerraf commentary (this time in Spanish with English subtitles). This is another poetic documentary - the topic however is the artist Reveron, whose work is displayed in its creative environment in various stages of contrasting light. Another short documentary is included - entitled The Film of Her Life: Araya - by Antoine Mora running 16-minutes - it has Margot Benacerraf returning to Araya in 1996. There are also two extensive television interviews with Benacerraff discussing Araya for 23-minutes and Reveron for 10 minutes. There is a US trailer for Araya and on the disc is a PDF file Press Kit.
Both the film and the SD presentation are extremely pleasing - and the extras are worthy of Criterion. I'll simply say that this is one of the most recommendable DVD packages of the year to date. Cinema fans should consider this 'essential viewing'. High praise for Milestone!