Monday, October 13, 2014

The Salt of the Earth (2014)

The Salt of the Earth is documentary about photographer Sebastião Salgado. I chose to see this because I wanted to see something on Sunday and as a photographer this felt interesting. I made good choice. I was bit disappointed because movie showed, what a documentary about photographer could be, but then turned out to be more of a normal documentary. Movie started with powerful black and white  Sebastião Salgado's photographs. Sebastião Salgado told about shown photographs. We only saw his film noir like lighted face. When there were moving pictures, camera stood still, no zooming. Shot was framed like photograph and people moved in shot. Just like in street photography you frame the picture and wait for perfect moment to take a photo. Sometimes you frame the shot in you mind and wait for someone to walk into your frame. First minutes of the movie felt like perfect photography movie.

But it was not to be. After few minutes movie got colors and cameras started to move. Picture quality started to vary from sharp to VHS tape. I would have been perfectly happy listening Sebastião Salgado talking about his photos for whole movie. Movie had two directors, Wim Wenders and Sebastião Salgado's son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. It felt like Wim Wenders was making art movie with professional gear and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado was making low/no budget documentary. This made movie feel uneven. Juliano Ribeiro Salgado's parts had their moments, but he never got to level of Wim Wenders. Movie was uneven, but was held together by Sebastião Salgado's powerful photos.

Sebastião Salgado is photographer, who started as social photographer. His first major project was photographing people around South America. From there he slowly by steadily went to edgier and darker subjects ending up to photograph genocide in Rwanda. Movie follows Sebastião Salgado's journey as he lose his faith in humanity in Rwanda and how he become nature photographer and find new hope preserving nature and showing wonders of nature to others. Sebastião Salgado's photos make this one of most effective movie I have seen. There are photos of real dead people. It is not like fiction where you know it is not real. These things really happened. It is more powerful this way than seeing it in television.  Sebastião Salgado's photos take these things to personal level.

Movie leaves us with positive note telling how Sebastião Salgado and his siblings have resurrected forest around his fathers farm and showing us his pictures of beauty on nature. I don't remember seeing so many people staying to watch end credits as I did with this. Marvel movies are exception because we know there is end credit scene. With this movie there was nothing like that. We just wanted to get the whole experience.


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