Salt: A Reemergence of Containment Culture

Salt is a fictional 2010 Hollywood film set in present-day society about Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie), a CIA operative accused of being a Russian sleeper agent involved in a plot to kill the Russian President and start a nuclear war. Throughout the convoluted plot of this movie, the audience is forced to question the true identity of Salt and whether or not she can be trusted. However, the ending of the movie is ambiguous.

Link to poster:

Link to trailer: Salt Trailer

This film revisits the paranoia felt during the Cold War about Soviet spies and soldiers hiding in American society. Salt is supposedly part of a program that trained hundreds of children to infiltrate the US and be ready to utilize their training whenever called upon. During the Cold War, the American government and media encouraged citizens to be vigilant, which led to spying and constant scrutiny. Americans were afraid of people that seemed different in any way and were worried about Soviet infiltrators. This sentiment and culture reemerged after 9/11 when citizens were constantly fearful of future terrorist attacks and scared of Muslims and foreigners/immigrants in general. This paranoia is quite evident in the movie. The audience questions the true identity of all the main characters. 

The movie also taps into ideas about gender norms similar to those seen in the Cold War era. Salt is a seemingly “domestic” woman. She has a loving husband with whom she just had her two-year wedding anniversary. However, she wears suits to her CIA job and is actually highly trained and powerful. This deviance from the norm highlights another reason for why Salt was so feared in the movie. Salt’s character, with or without Soviet training is very “masculine.” In fact, the movie was initially supposed to have a male lead, to be played by Tom Cruise.


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