The Salt of the Earth depicts a man, photographer Sebastiao Salgado, through the eyes of two other men: his son, film director Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, who tries to get to know a father who was often away from home; and Wim Wenders, one of the great film-makers of our time.
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Photojournalism and documentaries are both troubling manipulators of perception. That this is a documentary about a photojournalist, further compounds the irony and difficult contradictions of Salgado's celebrity and work. As the NYTimes once asked most incisively, "can suffering be too beautiful?" Still, the humanist arc of Salgado's life and his mastery of the camera are undeniably arresting.
Neither Salgado's exceptional eye nor his sense of ethical mission as a social photographer were enough to heal him of the despair with which his exposure to human ferocity left him infected. Restoring natural landscapes ravaged by agriculture and industry seems to have done the trick. This is nice for him, and a great benefit to the environment around him. But it gnawed at me as something of a cop out all the same.
Compels the audience to question the necessity of the art to document the human condition, but also the responsibility of the artist to become more than just a chronicler of death & degradation. Salgado's imagery is astonishing, often beautiful, even when depicting a subject matter of real atrocity. An uneasy dichotomy, but one that suggests the perseverance of the human spirit; the will to survive against the odds.
What begins as a portrait of famed social photographer Sebastiao Salgado expands into an examination of mankind's barbarism of the past fifty years by examining his work through droughts, wars, displacements and genocide. But most interesting is the soul crushing effect that this should have has Salgado reinvent himself again finding hope in the possible rejuvenation of nature. Impeccably made film.
The tone: almost supercilious. Wenders does that voice over thing as only he and Herzog do it. Herzog does it better. A great archive of still images from which to pilfer (the pilfering is not actually an accomplishment). I do like that it (almost) does what we all should be doing, and what Salgado has (almost) done: starts w/ the human, ends at nature, and realizes that they were always already one and the same.
"The salt of the Earth" es un retrato del fotógrafo Sebastião Salgado dirigido por Wim Wenders y su hijo Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, donde a través de su historia como fotógrafo nos conduce a la parte más obscura de nuestra humanidad, en momentos es imposible no querer mirar la pantalla y evitar vernos ahí como parte de este desastre.
If Wim Wenders' precision as a storyteller or co-director Juliano Saldago's probing camerawork does not awe, the sheer majesty of Sebastião Saldago's photographs most certainly will. Sebastião is not only a brilliant photojournalist but also a very lucky man. They say behind every successful man is a woman—this film quietly suggests Sebastião's wife and business manager Léila as proving that point all too right.