The Salt of the Earth (2014 film)

The Salt of the Earth (also released under the French title Le sel de la terre) is a 2014 internationally co-produced biographical documentary film directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.[3] It portrays the works of Salgado's father, the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado.[4]

The Salt of the Earth
Film poster
Directed by
Written by
Produced byDavid Rosier
StarringSebastião Salgado
  • Hugo Barbier
  • Juliano Ribeiro Salgado
Edited by
  • Maxine Goedicke
  • Rob Myers
Music byLaurent Petitgand
  • Decia Films
  • Amazonas Images
  • Fondazione Solares delle Arti
Distributed byLe Pacte
Release dates
  • 20 May 2014 (2014-05-20) (Cannes)
  • 15 October 2014 (2014-10-15) (France)
  • 26 March 2015 (2015-03-26) (Brazil)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
  • France
  • Brazil
  • Italy
  • French
  • Portuguese
  • Italian
  • English
Box office$3.6 million[2]

The film was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival,[5] where it won the Special Prize.[6] It went on to win many awards at international film festivals and awards ceremonies, including the Audience Award at the 2014 San Sebastián International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the 2015 Tromsø International Film Festival,[7][8] and Best Documentary at the 40th César Awards.[9] At the 87th Academy Awards, The Salt of the Earth was nominated for Best Documentary.[10]

Overview edit

Numerous examples of Sebastião Salgado's photographs, which explore natural environments and the humans who inhabit them, are featured in the film,[11] with Salgado providing commentary on the circumstances surrounding their creation. His black and white photographs illuminate how the environment and humans are exploited to maximize profit for the global economic market. The film traces 40 years of Salgado's work, which took him from South America to Africa, Europe, the Arctic, and back home to Brazil, and focuses on international conflicts, starvation and exodus, and natural landscapes, both pristine and in decline. Also featured in the film are some reminiscences from Salgado's son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado (co-director of the film), about his childhood with a father who was absent much of the time, and the trips he took with his father as an adult to discover who Sebastião was beyond his childhood conception.

Synopsis edit

After leaving Brazil for political reasons in the late 1960s, Sebastião Salgado began a career in France as an economist. When his wife, Lélia, bought a camera,[12] however, he discovered a love of photography, and changed professions. With Lelia's support, he began working full-time as a photographer in 1973, initially doing photojournalism before transitioning to a more documentary-style. Salgado's own photos and videos are used to illustrate his life and work, beginning with his exile from Brazil and subsequent transition from economist to artist and explorer.[13]

Feeling homesick, but not yet able to return to Brazil, for his first major multi-year project Sebastião traveled around other parts of the Americas, where he spent time among and photographed the people and their circumstances.

Next, Sebastião traveled to the Sahel region of Africa, taking many unflinching and heartbreaking photographs of the difficult conditions he encountered. He documented the famine in Ethiopia (which he refers to as a problem of distribution, not just a natural disaster), spending time at the largest ever refugee camps and witnessing some of the innumerable deaths that occurred there from hunger, cholera, and cold. His work helped bring worldwide attention to the region and the underlying causes of the suffering.

After a project to photograph the workers of the world, Sebastião undertook a project to document refugees, including those resulting from the Yugoslav Wars and the Rwandan genocide. When he returned to follow up on the refugees from Rwanda one year later, Sebastião became so dispirited by what he found that he lost hope for humanity and questioned the point of his work.

Sebastião and Lélia moved from Paris to Sebastião's his native Minas Gerais to help run his ailing father's ranch. Lélia had the idea to reforest the land, and they founded the Instituto Terra. Inspired by the revitalization of his family land, Sebastião decided to do another big photographic project, this time to document pristine landscapes and wildlife, as well as human communities that continue to live in accordance with their ancestral traditions, such as the Zo'é, who did not come into contact with the modern world until the late-1980s, and the Yali.

Reception edit

The Salt of the Earth received largely positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 95% based on 96 reviews, with an average rating of 8.00/10; the site's "critics consensus" reads: "While the work it honors may pose thorny ethical questions that Salt of the Earth neglects to answer, it remains a shattering, thought-provoking testament to Sebastião Salgado's career."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 83 out of 100 based on reviews by 29 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[15]

References edit

  1. ^ "The Salt of the Earth (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 9 April 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Salt of the Earth". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Wim Wenders Sets Sail for Cannes, But Where Is 'Every Thing Will Be Fine'?". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  4. ^ "The Salt of the Earth review – colourful portrait of visionary photographer Sebastião Salgado". The Guardian. 16 July 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  5. ^ "2014 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Un Certain Regard 2014 Awards". Festival de Cannes 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  7. ^ Other awards of the 62nd edition
  8. ^ Award Winners 2015
  9. ^ "Cesar Awards: 'Timbktu' Sweeps, Kristen Stewart Makes History". The Hollywood Reporter. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Oscars 2015: Full List of Nomiations". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Sebastião Salgado | artnet". Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Sebastião Salgado: A God's eye view of the planet - interview". Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  13. ^ Funk, McKenzie. "Sebastião Salgado Has Seen the Forest, Now He's Seeing the Trees". Smithsonian. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  14. ^ "The Salt of the Earth (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  15. ^ "The Salt of the Earth Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 9 April 2015.

External links edit