The Salt of the Earth
During the last forty years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever changing humanity. He has witnessed the major events of our recent history ; international conflicts, starvations and exodus… He is now embarking on the discovery of pristine territories, of the wild fauna and flora, of grandiose landscapes : a huge photographic project which is a tribute to the planet's beauty. Sebastião's Salgado's life and work are revealed to us by his son, Juliano, who went with him during his last journeys, and by Wim Wenders, a photographer himself.
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★★★★½ review by slyman on Letterboxd
A nice reminder for a cinema fan that pictures don't have to move to be utterly affecting
★★★½ review by Ben Albertyn on Letterboxd
Sure, 90% of its value is derived from Salgado's shatteringly powerful photography but Wenders just dealt with it so magnificently and the whole idea of contextualizing his famous images, as well as contextualizing his own world view and POV worked so incredibly well. Wenders never meant for it to be a great movie and thats what makes it a very good movie. It just celebrates, and indulges in, Salgado's incredible achievements and the film is at its best when we're just flipping through his mind blowing, and often harrowing, imagery as the great man himself talks us through every frame. Absolutely transfixing. Its about 10/15 minutes too long but I doubt whether you will ever find a better documentary about photography than this.
★★★★ review by Raul Marques on Letterboxd
Juggling between what's in front of the camera and the person behind it, the film makes Salgado's photos even more fascinating than they already are. With such meaningful themes, it's perfectly natural that there's more emphasis on the work rather than the man, but through comments on his experiences you get to know him. I couldn't help but find the narration, from Sebastião, slightly snobby at first, but once much heavier pictures comes up this feeling is completely gone.
★★★★ review by Lance on Letterboxd
Great footage of walruses, burning oil fields, and the Sahara
★★★★½ review by Bob Hovey on Letterboxd
Wim Wenders' film about Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado is moving and inspiring, breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreaking.
Documentary film makers often use the literal truth of what the camera sees as a blunt instrument but here the effect is magnified because Salgado himself is doing the same thing with his still photographs. The undeniable beauty of his compositions and his masterful utilization of shapes and light are mesmerizing, but the subject matter he is depicting is often repulsive and soul-shaking.
Photographing the poor and disenfranchised all over the world, Salgado was on a mission to bear witness to human suffering in all its forms. Ethiopia, Brazil, Rwanda, Kuwait, Yugoslavia... no place seemed too remote or too dangerous for him. Finally, burned out and disgusted with humanity he went home to plant trees on the family property (his father had totally clear cut his 600 hectares decades before, selling the wood to pay for his children's education and to get them out of the country during the years of repressive military dictatorship). It was then that nature got under his skin and he seemed to find a renewed sense of purpose as a nature photographer, documenting plants, animals and indigenous people who were still living in harmony with the planet and each other.
The film itself is fairly conventional in format, but Salgado's powerful images and his own quiet dignity elevate the film in a most spectacular way. This is a beautiful story of an amazing life, one that began with curiosity and conscience, evolving past duty and despair to ultimately find optimism and hope.
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