Friday, December 08, 2017

Robert M. Young: '¡Alambrista!' (1977, 2004, 2012)

Robert M. Young's ¡Alambrista! ["tightrope walker" aka "The Illegal"] (1977, 2004, 2012), originally shot on a shoestring budget and later re-edited by the director, follows young and inexperienced Alberto (Domingo Ambriz) as he crosses into the USA from Mexico, seeking work in order to help provide for his wife and new child back home. His adventures, sometimes humorous, are more often harrowing, for all the while he is being hunted.

¡Alambrista! is similar to Vittorio De Sica's Ladri di biciclette / Bicycle Thieves (1948), but the issues at hand are more open-ended. 

Very little, it seems, has changed in the American desire for migrant labor as of the early 21st century, nor in rough, chaotic conditions for those who are able to make the initial crossing to fill demand.  
"Much like the Italian neorealists, Young discovered the effectiveness of using documentary techniques to tell fictional stories. But the Italians—De Sica, Rossellini, and Visconti, for instance—were experienced narrative filmmakers who appropriated documentary techniques to lend a sense of authenticity and immediacy to their contemporary tales of ordinary people. Young was coming from the opposite end of the filmmaking spectrum.
Steeped in the documentary tradition of journalistic objectivity, he wrestled with a paradox then slowly dawning on him: fiction could be truer than reportage."  

Charles Ramírez Berg, "¡Alambrista!: Inside the Undocumented Experience," The Criterion Collection (2012). Here's a link to Berg's full essay.

Another great film, proving yet again that a big budget is not necessary to make effective movies.

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.   

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I agree with the idea that fiction can be truer than reportage, at least at times.