Based on the title alone, one might assume that "In the Pit" was a behind-the-scenes look at the fast-and-furious world of NASCAR racing. In actuality, it's a modestly-scaled documentary about the building of a massive freeway overpass in highly congested Mexico City. The "stars" of Juan Carlos Rulfo's film are the unheralded common workers without whose backbreaking labor - often performed at great risk to their lives and persons - such public-works projects could never be completed.
"In the Pit" is a paean to all the blue-collar folk who generally receive scant recognition from either the movie industry or society as a whole for the important work they do. Rulfo provides no voice-over narration, instead allowing the men to relate their life stories wholly in their own words. They talk not only about their work but their outside lives and interests, occasionally launching into reflective commentary on life, love, poverty, religion, the state of the world in general and life in Mexico in particular (the irony is that, in the two-tiered economic system in which they live, many of the men who had a hand in building the bridge will never have occasion to use it). But most of the time we see them simply going about their daily activities on the job, good-naturedly ribbing one another as only a tight-knit group of experience-sharing buddies can do. Rulfo obviously has a great deal of affection for these people, yet he neither romanticizes nor sentimentalizes them or their plight; they are always just ordinary guys trying to make their way in the world with as much honesty and dignity as their situation will bear.
Rulfo ends his film on a bravura high note of movie-making skill: a stunning six-minute-long helicopter shot that swoops along the length of the freeway barely above the heads of the waving workers. Beyond its own aesthetic value, the shot drives home the sheer technological impressiveness of what these hardworking, largely "uneducated" gentlemen have been able to accomplish - and the legacy they will have left behind.
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