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News CRN's Vanessa Delgado's review of the movie Cesar Chavez
CRN's Vanessa Delgado's review of the movie Cesar Chavez PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vanessa Delgado   
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 23:56

 

As I write this film review, it is March 31, Cesar Chavez Day in Colorado, California and Texas, commemorating the day of his birth in 1927.

When I was a child, I had lots of confusion over why my parents wouldn't allow grapes in the house. Oh, I had been told along the line that the farm workers weren't being treated fairly and we were doing our part to help them. That it was a noble cause, and all, but I was ten years old and I missed the grapes in my lunch pail.

Cesar Chavez (Michael Pena), one of the greatest leaders and civil rights activists of the 20th century, was born in Yuma, Arizona, to a Mexican/American family of seven other brothers and sisters. The family had a ranch, and grocery business, but lost it during the depression, which forced them to find work in the fields, where he saw the men and women mistreated and humiliated on a daily basis.

The film covers the years 1962 – 1970. Feeling he must do something, he and Dolores Huerta (Rosario Dawson) co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, which was later called The United Farm Workers Union, UFW.

People like me, growing up in California, heard about the activities on the nightly news, especially during the three protest fasts he undertook, one, of which, is portrayed, but it wasn't until after his death, April 23, 1993, at age 66, that he became a major historical icon for the Latino communities everywhere. Streets, Buildings, Parks and many other institutions bear his name. Another thing you may not know is that the phrase, “Si, Se Puede!”, is a slogan that was popularized by Chavez and his workers long before it was used by the Obama presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

Chavez spent two years in the Navy, which he describes as the worst two years of his life,came home to marry his high school sweetheart, Helen (America Ferrera), moved to San Jose and and had eight children. He worked in the fields in 1952.

The strike, which began September 8, 1965, lasted five years and attracted national attention. In 1966,The United States Committee on Labor and Public Welfare’s sub-committee held hearings in California with New York Senator, Robert Kennedy (wonderfully portrayed by Jack Holmes) in attendance. He was in great support of the striking workers, blasting the sheriff of Delano, California, by suggesting to him that he might want to read the constitution of the United States during the lunch break to get his facts straight (something that some of our politicians seem not to have done much of lately). Another point Senator Kennedy makes is the need to respect heroic people of our time. The scenes with Kennedy were accurately portrayed.

Dignity is the key here, which is what the non-violent Cesar Fridayadrian CH
avez believes all people have a right to. Chavez mentions that when the Chinese were building our railroads, some food, and the time to eat it…in other words, a little dignity…meant more than money to them.

Heartbreaking scenes involved President Nixon and Governor Reagan opposing the strike, going so far as to show Reagan sitting at his desk being filmed eating grapes and laughing while doing so.

We also watch, as, actor, John Malkovich, plays a ruthless vineyard owner (Bogdanovich Senior) who believes he is doing the right thing by paying the workers $2 an hour. If these people won’t work, they will bring in illegal friends, and relatives, by the truckload to work the fields. Watch him age over the years as he clings on to this conviction.

The script is full of touching moments, such as the one at the end of the film, where Chavez apologizes to his son or not being there for him (and his seven brothers and sisters) during all the protests, and we learn many facts, one of them is that the average lifespan for a farm worker is 49 years.

This film shows how organization and grass movements really do work – if you have the time, patience and perseverance to see it through. I will leave you to think about this line of dialogue, “If the poor aren't involved…change will never come.”

Unfortunately, the same struggle for decent wages and working conditions continues to this day, and Cesar Chavez offers the people in today’s struggle the example of courage and determination needed to win the battle.

 

source: http://www.crnlive.com/CRNBlog/index.php/2014/04/review-of-the-movie-cesar-chavez-by-vanessa-delgado-for-crnlive/

 
News CRN's Vanessa Delgado's review of the movie Cesar Chavez

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