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Araya (1959)

Margot Benaceraff  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Directors: Margot Benaceraff
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Milestone Cinematheque
  • DVD Release Date: April 5, 2011
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004L51D0G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,881 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

In 1959, ARAYA shared the prestigious International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. But for fifty years, the film was largely overlooked and forgotten, until Milestone's theatrical release in 2009. Critics and audiences were stunned by the glowing cinematography, powerful story and the passionate love for the culture that director Margot Benacerraf had captured so many decades before. Although critics in the 1950s compared ARAYA to Robert Flaherty's Man of Aran, Benacerraf never intended to make a documentary. The film was meticulously planned as a tone poem in which image, music, sound and language combine to create a moving and magical exploration of a desolate place and the remarkable people who lived there. Benacerraf's cinematic tour de force 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 captured breathtaking and unforgettable images, from the saliñeros 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 windswept graves.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Araya May 9, 2011
The first thing that I remembered when watching "Araya," was "I am Cuba," Michael Kalatozov's 1964 epic film, which, coincidentally, is also distributed by Milestone. And the reason was simple, yet powerful: its awesome black and white photography. It just can't escape your eyes; it makes you ask, Why do we tend to ignore films in B&W? But "Araya" is much more than that; it is an altogether cinematic masterpiece that you will never forget, a treasure that was almost forgotten, but rescued by Milestone

Located in a peninsula in the northeastern part of Venezuela, "Araya" is a natural salt mine. The film opens with grandiose shots of clouds, waves, and deserted landscapes, with cactuses and brushes. And then we are taken to a harsh reality, when a voice tells us that, "On this land nothing grew, and all was desolation, wind and sun. All life came from the sea. And from the marriage of sea and sun, salt was born on this land." This same voice (José Ignacio Cabrujas), in its original Spanish, tells us the story of Araya, when the conquistadores arrived from Spain in 1500, and were seduced by the enormous quantities of salt in its beaches, which at that time, we are told, was as expensive as gold. Within some short period, the Spanish built a fortress, from which this richness was exploited, but was abandoned years later. Margot Benacerraf, the director, then takes us forward 480 years, and asks herself. "What happened after the Spanish left?" The rest of the film provides the answer.

Benacerraf then introduces us to the salt-miners, hard-working men and women who extract the "the white gold from the sea" from the salt marshes, which appears to be the only job in town - they work in Araya, but live in the town of Manicuare.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Araya November 13, 2011
It is astonishing that Margot Benacerraf's Araya has not been as widely acclaimed, distributed, and seen over the years as other legendary world cinema; it ranks with the best-known work of Bergman, Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, etc.. In documenting a remote region of her country, its people, and their way of life, she reaches breathtaking heights, both emotional and intellectual, artistic and political. Araya is, in short, a work of the very highest order that does some of the greatest things cinema can do, and Milestone should be applauded for bringing something so valuable to us, with so much care and attention lavished upon its audiovisual integrity. Their release of this great film takes DVD-era technology and puts it to a truly admirable purpose: to alert us to, and give us the opportunity to experience, a half-buried cinematic treasure.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bonus Features for DVD March 1, 2011
BONUS FEATURES

1) ARAYA (82 mins. B&W. 16x9.) New 2K scan from the original 35mm interpositive.
2) Restored Spanish soundtrack with new English subtitles. French language soundtrack.
3) REVERON, the first film by Margot Benacerraf. 1953. B&W. 23 minutes.
4) THE FILM OF HER LIFE: ARAYA. Documentary by Antoine Mora.
5) Two extensive television interviews with Margot Benacerraf.
6) Two Audio Commentaries: Interviews with Margot Benacerraf on ARAYA and REVERON.
7) ARAYA American trailer.
8) ARAYA Press kit (PDF file for DVD-Rom download)
9) From the Files of Margot Benacerraf (PDF file for digital download)
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CLASSIC - MESMERIZING - - though the artist did not make more than 2 or 3 movies, she caught the essence of CHANGE.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Araya July 17, 2011
Tied with HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR @ 1959 Cannes, but still, zzzzz. Director Benacerraf huffs that this is *not* a documentary, but a "tone poem". Monotone, that is. Rather than let her (pretty, yes) images poetically flow, she ladles on glop after glop of non-stop condescending narration that does the "noble savage" bit all too well. Salt-pork-fisted. +1 for being *very* pretty, tho. 5/10
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