June 16, 2020
The Salt of the Earth, directed by Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. France, 2014.
Rich blacks, almost coppery greys, luminosities of light, whites sheer like silk shining, Salgado's work, grandeur, a vast scale. In his humanity, we see the terror of us, how we are victim to our own cruelties. His golddiggers, a hive of ants in the pit, farmers, dying Rwandans, Ethiopian skeletal peoples, the genocide of the Serbs, burning oil fields in Kuwait, on land, water, air, ice, in forests, mud plains, cities, deserts, he paints landscapes of pain or of beauty. When he cannot contain the pain anymore, retreats into existential despair, his wife, Leila, who was with him in spirit on every project in every part of the world while at home with their children, a true curator, guide, turns their focus to healing through affirmation of the beauty of the planet, to re-planting their denuded rainforest in Brazil, to documenting the diversity and beauty of animals, birds & insects of the world. The film ends with renewal, resurgence, regeneration, a joy, transcendent. Of a mountainous desert alive with two and a half million trees.
Wim Wenders has created a portrait of an artist, Sebastiao Salgado, whose face is as smoothly worn, craggy and lined as the mountains he loved and full of the light from the tops of those peaks, which spreads out in every direction.