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859 Note


Statele Unite, 1969


While laboring to sell a gold-embossed version of the Good Book, Paul Brennan and his colleagues target the beleaguered masses—then face the demands of quotas and the frustrations of life on the road. A landmark American documentary.

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The camera’s presence is ambiguous. It follows the film’s characters going door to door with breathtakingly smooth tracking shots. At first, it is positioned behind its four subjects as they give their flustered potential customers the hard sell. But eventually it becomes less of a disinterested observer. It suddenly appears in a living room, waiting for the knock on the door. Later, when one subject returns from a successful sale, the camera seemingly stands on both sides of a motel threshold.
May 05, 2015
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A quietly devastating study of door-to-door Bible peddlers, SALESMAN is at once a cinéma vérité classic, a critique of commodification, and a portrait of the other 1960’s America. Reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch’s STRANGER THAN PARADISE (1984), the Maysles capture an America that feels empty, from the blank winter landscapes of New England to the equally evacuated outskirts of Miami Beach.
November 18, 2011
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The movie is not just a social and political landmark, but a technical and aesthetic one as well… Salesman’s embellishment of the genre’s developing vocabulary pushed documentaries further away from the goal of simply recording life… The Maysles brothers and Zwerin showed that it was possible, even desirable, to interpret and report simultaneously—and that the result could bring nonfiction filmmaking closer to social criticism than it had ever gotten before.
January 18, 2007
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Ce spun cinefilii?

  • Ethan's rating of the film Salesman

    This is a captivating documentary that paints an intimate portrait of the trials and tribulations of a door to door traveling salesman. This is true fly on the wall filmmaking right here. The Maysles capture something here that is subtly beautiful.

  • Christopher R. Smith's rating of the film Salesman

    The Maysles brothers and Charlotte Zwerin's documentary portrait of down-and-out Bible salesmen brilliantly conveys an atmosphere of desperation - with its effective, gritty black and white photography and fascinating characters. Despite some very compelling moments, it does go on too long (it gets off to a very slow start) and never quite reaches the heights you'd expect it to. Still, a very interesting documentary.

  • Daniel S.'s rating of the film Salesman

    More than 40 years after its release, SALESMAN is an interesting account of the American life in the late 60's. Not once is the word Vietnam pronounced during the film. I liked the scene with the man playing Yesterday on a tape recorder while one of the salesmen is about to have the contract signed by the man's wife. Also great is the speech of a vice-director justifying his business by quoting the Bible.

  • Jonuk Who's rating of the film Salesman

    One of a selected handful of films that I can genuinely say has changed my life. The film really touched me and spoke to me in an intimate way, seeing the miserable bible salesman made me realize how unhappy I was at a job I was working at, and I left it shortly after seeing Salesman.

  • David Tinkham's rating of the film Salesman

    A beautifully filmed documentary shot through with humanity and care for the individuals that it follows, something that most modern documentary makers miss in their pursuit of the cheap laugh or shock. The final scenes of the film, with Paul visibly coming apart at the seams and giving up, is one of the most heart-breaking moments I've seen.

  • Log Lady's rating of the film Salesman

    Didn't expect to like this as much as I did, let alone love, considering the profession of a travelling salesman seems to have been just an iffy way to guilt down-and-out people buy something overpriced that isn't crucial to surviving their daily life. However, the remarkably subtle character study of the salesmen and the glimpse to the lives of ordinary 60s Americans is hypnotic. Beautiful almost.

  • boughtabride's rating of the film Salesman

    did you know they sold bibles for 50 dollars in the 60s? the first maysle brothers documentary i'm seeing. it simultaneously made me want these men to really sell these bibles to these poor people so they could make a living but also get the hell out of their lives because that is absolutely absurd. it's like an indie film. something that's abstractly uninteresting is strangely gripping, to me.

  • yasdnil's rating of the film Salesman

    Great documentary. For its time, it was shedding light on an aspect of religion not many considered: business. Consumerism. I was slightly disturbed with the guilt tactic used, where people are reduced for being unable to afford a bible. Rich or poor, religion is something people can always cling to - and of course, some religious institutions (as well as businesses) will use that to their advantage.

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