Friday, April 2, 2010
The silent documentary Salt for Svanetia (1930), directed by Mikhail Kalatozov, is an ethnographic study of a remote area that is now in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. The film seems to have been made to promote the Soviet Union's planned roadbuilding which would bring desperately needed salt to the region. But the film's staged scenes, expressionistic camerawork, and pro-Soviet propaganda undermine its credibility. The Ushkul people are portrayed as primitives; the community exiles a woman about to give birth, for example, because of savage superstitions. The most interesting aspect of the movie is the expert use of cross-cutting to build suspense.