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Review: Salt of the Earth

A stunning documentary for some summer solemnity



And now for something a little more sobering for your summer, here’s Wim Wenders with The Salt of the Earth, a stunning retrospective of the life and career of the Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado, who began his career shooting the working class all over the world, then moved into war zones and the environment. A fairly straightforward march through his life, Wenders—who directs with Salgado’s son Juliano—uses the traditional structure to showcase the work that’s breathtaking in ways good (a Galapagos tortoise) and horrifying (genocide in Rwanda). Forty years of bearing witness to the world at its most remote, most beautiful, most terrible and most redeeming, Salgado is also a steady, gentle presence as he discusses the various tragedies and how his work affected his family, a wife and two boys. Though Leila is not on camera often, she is the guiding light of Salgado’s life, organizing the photos that become his world-renowned books, and if she’s got a problem with his absence, this film doesn’t mention it. A fine, educational piece of documentary here, and the most beautiful images you’ll see all season—with zero computer enhancement.

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