THE SALT OF THE EARTH | REVIEW

Sebastião Salgado is one of the greatest photographers and photojournalists of all time and is considered by Hal Gould (long time photographic fine art curator of Camera Obscura) the most important photographer of the early 21st century. His work is jaw dropping – seriously just click on his Google image search link HERE. Accomplished filmmaker Wim Wenders (MILLION DOLLAR HOTEL, BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB) teams up with Sebastião’s son, Juliano Salgado, to bring this visually feasting cinematic ode to the works of this brilliant man that was the winner of the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival . It should be noted, they are not all pictures of pretty animals, and that Salgado has visually documented the after-effects of genocide, but to be brutally honest, these need to seen with the photos of wonder, he records the planet and we are the worst part of the planet. If you appreciate art, photography or stunningly made documentaries then this needs to be seen. If you need more recommendation, suss out the review below from Kernel Emma, with here very first perfect pop score movie. THE SALT OF THE EARTH is releasing this coming Thursday, 9th April in Australia from Madman Films. It is rated M, runs for 105mins and will be on a strictly limited art-house release – I can find it screening at Dendy Newtown & Cinema Nova only – search your local directories.

 

THE SALT OF THE EARTH MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
THE SALT OF THE EARTH | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

BY EMMA BISHOP

THE SALT OF THE EARTH is testament to the power of visual storytelling, exploring all facets of the human condition, one confronting image after another. The film spans forty years and over one hundred different countries as photographer and passionate socialist Sebastião Salgado uncovers the greatest atrocities in modern history. The admiration felt by respected documentary maker Wim Wenders and Juliano Salgado (Sebastiao’s only son) is apparent in their filmmaking, resulting in an exceedingly moving documentary. While audiences will likely find the images of genocide and severe poverty particularly challenging, Salgado’s respect for the planet provides a powerful and uplifting contrast. “We are a terrible species” – Salgado reminds us, a statement far too apparent for us to ignore.

Photography is “the re-writing of the world through light and shadows” and there is no greater way to capture a moment in time than through the emotion shown on a human face. We begin in Serra Pelada, a Brazilian gold mine where the gaunt workers search desperately for an income. Thousands of men fill the dirty hole where Brazilian born Salgado took his most famous photographs. From the indigenous tribes of Papua New Guinea to the severe genocide in Rwanda, we travel across the globe. Juxtaposed with the journey of photography, we meet Salgado’s equally creative wife and son, connecting with the family in addition to the story. Each journey and its resulting collection of photographs are given a name. These correspond to chapters of the documentary and reflect the culture and time period of their creation. In a way the film functions as a life cycle reminiscent of the style seen in SAMSARA. Where there is horrific and disturbing behavior shown by humans, there is beauty in nature. Salgado and his wife plant thousands of trees in an attempt to rectify deforestation. The filmmakers travel to Antarctica in the final chapter ‘Exodus’ to capture the walrus’ and polar bears who call this place home. Black and white is almost always used in the images of humans, while when we meet the wildlife they are vibrant and the vegetation shines.

 

THE SALT OF THE EARTH MOVIE IMAGE OF SEBASTIÃO SALGADO
THE SALT OF THE EARTH | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | IMAGE OF SEBASTIÃO SALGADO WITH NATIVES IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

 

As we explore the world through Salgado’s lens, he reminds us that “the power of a portrait lies in a glimpse of a second where we are let into someone’s life”. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the photos taken of the Genocide in Rwanda in the latter phase of his journey. So severe was the mercilessness Salgado witnessed, that he was left feeling an utter loss of hope for humanity. A father leaves his dead son on a pile of unidentified bodies, mothers hold onto their severely malnourished children and we, as an audience, watch in complete bewilderment that this is in the world we live. As confronting as these images are, it is impossible not to appreciate the beauty in Salgado’s photography. While the documentary is challenging in its content, it is a celebration of social photography in its nature. The balance of visual imagery with interview footage and commentary reminds us just how talented a documentary maker Wim Wenders is. The narrative of THE SALT OF THE EARTH poses challenging questions to its audience and seeks to answer these through Salgado’s pictures. This mode of storytelling is one of many enjoyable elements which result from the partnership of filmmaker and photographer.

 

THE SALT OF THE EARTH MOVIE POSTER
THE SALT OF THE EARTH | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | RAVAGES OF WAR – DEAD BODIES

 

This is absolutely the best and most affecting documentary I’ve ever seen. Sebastião Salgado’s incredible social conscience and his ability to bring such severe injustice to light through his photography is something very special. Unlike PINA (Wenders 2011 3D ballet dance documentary) which was a visual spectacle, THE SALT OF THE EARTH embodies a more serious and thought-provoking tone. Audiences will struggle to shake off the feeling this film leaves you with and it will not be a suitable choice for Friday night, wine in hand, escapism. Audiences will however be in awe of the incredible photography, which looks particularly beautiful blown up on a cinema screen. There is so much to take from this film and I will be seeing it again when it releases this week.

If my recommendation is not enough, THE SALT OF THE EARTH has picked up its fair share of awards with an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Film at the 2015 Academy Awards. Despite its serious nature, the story has wide appeal and issues of humanity and the environment are universal. The film hits hard and some of the photos are pretty damn graphic. Despite their graphic and at times disturbing content, there is a clear sense of respect echoed throughout the film. Never at any time does Wenders’ or Salgado trivialise or glamorise the different cultures and historical events. Salgado’s empathy and passion for human kind and nature alike could not be more genuine and Wenders’ does a remarkable job of celebrating this.

 

5 Pops

 

 

Privacy Preference Center