Salt of the Earth

“Salt of the Earth” brings memorable images to life

His most famous photos are of an open pit Brazilian gold mine, looking like the gates of hell with thousands of workers blackened by the soil they are digging under tortuous conditions. Brazilian documentary photographer Sebastião Salgado was trained as an economist, but found a calling to abandon his lucrative profession and travel the world as a social documentary photographer.  “Salt of the Earth”,  by Wim Wenders and Salgado’s son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, brings to life its subject’s 40-year career with images that are both beautiful and heartbreaking and narration by Wenders, the two Salgados and the photographer’s wife.

“We’re terrible animals, we humans,” Sebastião Salgado says at one point. “Whether in Europe, in Africa, in South America, everywhere, we are extremely violent. Our history is a history of wars. It’s an endless story, a story of repression, of madness.” Yet his ultimate message is not one of despair. The film moves on to chronicle Salgado’s successful project to replant the Amazon rain forest on his family farm as he points out that half the world’s surface is still untouched by man.

Salgado has documented tragic events such as genocides in Rwanda and Yugoslavia and created memorable records of apocalyptic oil-well fires in Kuwait and migratory reindeer herders in the Arctic. Wherever he points his camera he finds drama and a grandeur that often overcomes suffering. Commenting on the power of his photography, the Philadelphia Inquirer said “adept at single-figure portraiture as startling, large-format groupings, Salgado possesses the eye of an artist but the soul of the economist he trained to be.”

“There are just as many breathtaking moments to be found in the film as there are in the work it’s about,” according to the Washington Post. “The film is suffused with his anguish over the state of our species, and our planet. Yet it ends with a change of heart and a turn of events that make a plausible case for hope,” said the Wall Street Journal, adding that “the best way to see “The Salt Of the Earth” is on a big screen, so seize the opportunity if it’s playing nearby.”

The Saratoga Film Forum will screen “Salt of the Earth” at the Dee Sarno Theatre, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs NY 12866.  Show times are Thursday, June 11,Friday, June 12, and Sunday, June 14, at 7:30 pm each day. General admission is $8 for the general public, $6 for members and students. For more information about the Film Forum, please visit, or call 584-3456.


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