The Salt of the Earth

salt of the earthYears ago I used to read a lot of self-help books and felt invigorated with all the new knowledge. Now I read almost exclusively fiction in order to escape and to examine the genres. In a similar way, I used to crave documentaries but now find myself wanting to focus more and more on fiction television and film. Last night I spent time with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders’ tribute to photographer (and father to Salgado) Sebastião Salgado in The Salt of the Earth. I knew the film had been nominated for an Oscar this year. I had no idea of the content of the film other than the front cover for the Blu-ray which looks beautiful. Salgado’s photographs are stunning essays on the human condition and state of the planet. His story is fascinating – how one man finds his calling in life and devotes so much of his life to chronicling evidence of the massive changes to the earth itself as well as the cruelty of humans to each other. I wasn’t prepared for the devastating images of people forced out of their homes, their land, left to starve, die of disease, or massacred. For that reason, I had a hard time finishing The Salt of the Earth. Is it a brilliant film? Yes. Is it extremely difficult to stomach the imagery in the last half of the film? Absolutely. Which of course makes the film even more significant since Salgado’s photographic evidence stands as a reminder to us of how much we abuse our home and hate our neighbor. Not an easy pill to swallow, but in the end I took it as a call to burn my own light a little brighter and bring more love and care into this difficult reality we call life. 4 out of 5 for The Salt of the Earth.

 

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