Portland Film Club Message Board › "Salt of the Earth"
I'm glad that we have discussions after the films that we see. We get only the knee jerk, tip of the iceberg, off the top of the head reactions, but it's a starting place!
Oddly, the "Salt of the Earth" film, which I didn't particularly like, provoked a lot of thought afterward.
I looked up the Biblical quote. It seemed to me to apply to the main character. Gianni had lost his "savor" (his self respect, and as a result, his willingness to experience his own feelings, desires, preferences and aversions.) We never saw him assert what he wanted (except to go for the curtains to a shop closer than Ikea) or what he was feeling about anything. He did whatever other people wanted (his wife, his daughter, his mother, the downstairs neighbor, the skirt chasing male buddy) with a pasted-on smile. As a result, he was "trodden underfoot," treated with disrespect by all of them.
Gianni made no response to the one effort of genuine personal contact that we saw made to him, when his old girlfriend told him that he still had the same strengths and faults. (Her remark suggested that his "people pleasing" was not new behavior.) When Gianni didn't avail himself of the opportunity for closeness and stepped away to take a phone call from his mother, the old girlfriend was disrespectful enough to fall asleep before he returned.
I think that one reason that the film was such a downer (I joined the woman to my right in this opinion.) was that none of us saw Gianni doing anything to change his situation. Even more saddening, Gianni's environment is one with a variety of great riches. As a contrast, in "Shipping News," which I watched last evening, the downtrodden main character grows under the approval he finds for his articles for the little Nova Scotia newspaper. We can believe that he will flourish even though his environment is bleak in many ways.