Redes (film)

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Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Emilio Gómez Muriel
Produced by Carlos Chavez (for the Secretaría de Educación Pública)
Written by Agustín Velázquez Chávez
Paul Strand
Emilio Gómez Muriel
Fred Zinnemann
Henwar Rodakiewicz
Starring Silvio Hernández
David Valle González
Rafael Hinojosa
Antonio Lara
Music by Silvestre Revueltas
Cinematography Paul Strand
Edited by Emilio Gómez Muriel
Gunther von Fritsch
Release dates 1936
Running time 65 minutes
Country Mexico
Language Spanish

Redes is a Mexican film, released in 1936, about the fishing community of Alvarado on the Gulf Coast of Mexico, very near Vera Cruz. The English language title is The Wave, although the Spanish language title refers to (fishing) nets. Redes was made with a mainly non-professional cast and has been seen as anticipating Italian neorealism. For moral influence and structural guidance, the film crew drew on the cinematic work of Robert Flaherty (Nanook of the North) and the early Soviet films (Potemkin).[1] It concerns the struggle of poor fishermen to overcome exploitation.

The making of the film[edit]

Paul Strand began work on the project, which was originally conceived as a documentary, in 1933. He had come to Mexico at the invitation of the Mexican composer Carlos Chávez, who had a government job promoting the arts under the socialist minister Narciso Bassols.[2] The film developed into a work of fiction with a scenario by Strand and Agustín Chávez, nephew of the composer. Towards the end of 1933, Henwar Rodakiewicz, a friend of Strand's from the Camera Club of New York, arrived to assist in the production. Rodakiewicz determined that the scenario was ragged and incoherent.[3] Due to this fact he wrote a shooting script for the film before returning to the USA for a few months. He also made arrangements for his friend, Fred Zinnemann, to travel to Alvarado to take on the role of director.[4] Zinnemann did not speak Spanish, while his co-director Emilio Gómez Muriel worked directly with the actors.

Filming was done on location in Alvarado, and the sound was added later. The production was affected by political changes in 1934 - in May Bassols resigned as minister of education and at the end of the year a new president, Lázaro Cárdenas took office. Carlos Chávez was taken off the film project, and Strand left Mexico in 1935.

Film music[edit]

The Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas was commissioned to provide the score in 1934. Revueltas, who had not previously written film music, visited Alvarado during the shooting. Revueltas was a protegé of Carlos Chávez, who had appointed him as assistant conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Mexico: however, the two men fell out around the time of the commission (and possibly because of it).

The score is considered a classic of film music, and is one of the few pieces of Mexican film music to have entered the concert repertory. Revueltas himself made an orchestral suite from the Redes score, but in concert performance the music is usually heard in a version arranged by Erich Kleiber after the composer's death.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was finished in 1935, but was released in Mexico in 1936.

The film was released in France and the USA in 1937. The New York Times' film reviewer was dismissive of the quality of the narrative, but acknowledged the merits of the photography and music.[6] The New York Times also published an article by Aaron Copland praising Revueltas' music. Copland said that the Mexican Government, choosing Revueltas to supply the music for "The Wave," is very much like the U.S.S.R. asking Shostakovich to supply sound for its best pictures.[7]


  1. ^ Letter, Gunther von Fritsch to William Alexander, August 18, 1976:
  2. ^ Paul Strand in Mexico by James Krippner, Aperture Foundation, New York, 2010 pp. 69-100
  3. ^ Letter, Henwar Rodakiewicz to Ned Scott, November 8, 1933:
  4. ^ Letter from Henwar Rodakiewicz to Ned Scott, 17 December 1933:
  5. ^ Phillip Huscher, Program Notes, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  6. ^ Frank S. Nugent (April 21, 1937), The Wave (1937), New York Times
  7. ^ Copland, Aaron (May 1937). "Mexican Composer". New York Times. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 

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