Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado:
THE SALT OF THE EARTH
Arrogant as I am, films about still photography (or paintings) are not something I usually pay much attention to. The relationship between the timeless photography and the time-dependent moving image is something film directors only rarely find a way to transmit in a truly satisfying manner.
Ever so more, there’s reason to be satisfied with this portrait of photographer Sebastião Salgado. The film’s sense of time and space turns out to be the perfect conveyor of Salgado’s pictures and words. The horror and the beauty in the protagonist’s work are presented to us in a way that reveals how great interpreters of reality both the still photographer and the directors are.
And horror there is: killings in Rwanda, burning oil fields in Kuwait, countless refugees and victims. It’s too appalling, too much – in the end also for Salgado himself – and you want something pretty and uplifting. And, thank god, you get that too. The pictures of the horrific are also too beautiful to some but that dilemma is part of taking the decision of snapping pictures of real horror to begin with. It’s not fiction, mind you, and you don’t need to make things up to show what the hell man is doing to himself and others and the world.
Nor does Wenders and his co-director (Salgado’s son) make stuff up. They lend their ears and their time to the protagonist and they arrange the material and write a voice-over that weaves their film and Salgado’s life together. Because they all want us to see – really see – the world and what’s in it.