REVIEW: The Salt of the Earth

13 07 2015

SaltThe personal journey that gave us documentary “The Salt of the Earth” bears a similarity to one of my favorite non-fiction films, Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell.”  Co-director Juliano Ribiero Salgado embarks making this film (with renowned German director Wim Wenders) as a means of discovering his father Sebastião, just as Polley discovered her mother through the process of compiling her own film.

Salgado seeks that entry point not through his life, however, but through his work.  Throughout Juliano’s childhood, Sebastião was a mystical figure because of the frequent travels his vocation required.  He was no run-of-the-mill salesman, though; Sebastião Salgado and his camera penetrated the psyche of some of the most remote, impoverished corners of the world.

As a photographer, Salgado takes an unconventional look at his subjects.  And, no, I am not referring to the epic scope of his pictures.  Salgado actually began his career not as an artist but as an economist.  His knowledge of capitalism and global corruption clearly informs the tragedy and urgency present in his pictures.

Salgado and Wenders do a great job providing a balance of curatorial notes on the pictures with a wondrous behind-the-scenes look at how Sebastião Salgado captured them.  The work, and the man who produces it, deserves consideration as both aesthetics and anthropology.  Especially in the segments of “The Salt of the Earth” that shine a harsh light on the Rwandan genocide – “the worst of our species,” as Sebastião Salgado dubbed it – the photos are now likely to receive it by a much wider audience than before.  B / 2halfstars

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3 responses

14 07 2015
ChadEHarris

an exquisite film–an exquisite life’s work. And I am considering purchasing that poster.

14 07 2015
Marshall

…or just wait for the next a/perture poster sale!

14 07 2015
ChadEHarris

Oh yes. Thanks for reminding me! I have Whiplash and A Single Man hanging now (framed) in my new place–thanks to the last sale!

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