Flash Movie Review: The Salt of the Earth

Photographs are the vehicles that bring pieces of the world to our consciousness. Like a garden in full bloom, some pictures form perennial memories that come up in our thoughts from time to time. There are others that bloom large in our mind that only last for a short time before withering away into the autumn then winter of its life. My attraction to photography started at a young age. Early on my purpose was to capture moments in my and other people’s lives like cobblestones that would help build the path of our lives. In college I found other ways to use a camera to create art. There was one class where our goal was to shoot the ordinary and make it into the extraordinary; I went crazy in this class, shooting and developing photos every weekend. One of the photos was hung up in our school gallery. It was a close-up picture of bananas, but after blowing the size up and framing it, it looked like it was an old discarded toilet. For me there is a difference between scenes shown on a newscast versus a photograph. Seeing something on TV, even if it is disturbing, tends to be fleeting or separate from one’s self. I find photographs are more powerful, capturing more emotional deepness in my opinion. Maybe it is because of all these reality based shows these days, but I tend to assume most things being broadcast are being shown through a filter. Looking at a photograph can be a moving experience.    PHOTOGRAPHER and cinematographer Sebastiao Salgado (The Spectre of Hope, Looking Back at You-TV movie) has been taking photographs for over 40 years. Through his camera lens he has seen some things no one should have to see; yet each one can become a chapter in a book about the world around us. This Oscar nominated and film festival winning documentary was amazing and hard to watch at the same time. Co-directed and written by Wim Wenders (Pina, Wings of Desire), there were some scenes that were quite uncomfortable to view such as the civil conflicts in Africa. However Sebastiao’s photographs on a whole were so beautiful; filmed in black and white gave them a special stark intensity. There were photos of events I had seen on the news, but displayed in this format made them more personal and intimate. The section of the movie that dealt with the Brazilian forest was fascinating to me. The other aspect of this film that I appreciated was listening to Sebastiao and Juliano Riberio Salgado (Paris la Metisse; Nauru, An Island Adrift-TV movie) talk about the photos and what was going on at the time. Watching this beautiful film felt like I was taking a walk through time; some of his photos will become new perennial memories in my mind. English, French and Portuguese was spoken through parts of the movie.


3 1/2 stars

About moviejoltz

From a long line of movie afficionados, one brother was the #1 renter of movies in the country with Blockbuster, I am following in the same traditions that came before me. To balance out the long hours seated in dark movie theaters, I also teach yoga and cycling. For the past 3 years, I have correctly picked the major Oscar winners... so join me as we explore the wonder of movies and search for that perfect 4 star movie.

Posted on April 8, 2015, in Documentary and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I really want to see this. Thank you for the excellent review.

  2. Alastair Savage

    It is important to mention that this film is at times harrowing in the way it depicts conflict and suffering. Salgado is a fearless chronicler of the dark side of humanity and the middle section of the film makes for very uncomfortable viewing. However, there is lightness too. In fact, the ending with the restoration of the ruined forest is life-affirming.
    I particularly loved the scene where Salgado rolls over and over on a shingle hill to creep as close as possible to a group of walruses on the beach. The resulting photograph is spectacular.

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