Film review in Wellington – ‘The Salt of the Earth’

On the second night in Wellington I decided to go to the cinema. I stumbled across this quaint old place called Paramount Theatre and on impulse went inside. At first I was undecided by what I planned to see, but then my eye caught the attention of a movie about a famous photojournalist; this sounded perfect. I felt so inspired after watching this film I immediately want to write about it.

Sebastio Salgado is a legend in my eyes. In this film “The Salt of the Earth” produced by Wim Wenders, Salgado captured so many amazing images, I now feel very inspired with my own photography. I always use colour, but throughout the whole film, he only ever produced black and white images. So powerful, detailed and provocative in their communication. Tomorrow I will be taking as many black and white images as I can.

Salgado travels incessantly all around the globe, covering a wide variety of stories, people and themes. Initially he was inspired to photograph people, mostly portraits, and he does so in many completely serene and remote places. He has such an ability to capture mood, personality and expression. I have never had a tendency towards portraits and people, but now I feel inspired to try this new medium.

Losing my tribe, my own loved ones, makes it more real to me that I can no longer capture their moments in time. My parents are now mere memories in my mind. I do have photographs of them all, sure, but they will forever remain static, no longer growing, evolving, wrinkling; they will remain the same, only to change in odour as time ages them.

Recently I came across some old photos of my Dad. They made such an impact on me, I realise now they too were black and white, I feel a theme emerging here. It was such a joy to see my Dad at a time I never knew him. To see his handsome face looking so young, I only knew him in his early fifties, with lines and wisdom etched on his face.

I remember one day asking my Mum to pose for me. I wanted to photograph her, and practise my portrait ability. I remember her being shy and reluctant, I still managed to get a few in; if only I could have another chance.

Photography is such a wonderful hobby, and one I am proud of having. I love capturing beauty, capturing a moment in time. One that is unique, that no one else can see, as this is my personal perspective and this moment in time won’t ever be seen again, exactly as I see it. This recording of time, creates a sense of permanency, this moment can be relived in time to come. Memories are formed around the image.

When we look back on photos, often this one photo can trigger a whole string of thoughts, ideas, and memories of a time and place. I love that.

Salgado photographed many graphic, disturbing and controversial images. He felt it important that all humans see, through the lens of his camera, the atrocity our fellow humans can bestow on one another. Many of his photos were showed horrifying images, displaying death, starvation, hopelessness and suffering in all its raw naked bare emaciated ugly truth. He talked about burnout and how his own soul had suffered a great deal from seeing these images, from being so close and involved. But they were real. Not made up. All these things actually happened, and it was important to see how horrible our history was. If only we could learn from our mistakes, not kill each other, distribute food better to avoid unnecessary starvation. A very poor distribution of wealth, of power and resources, plus many other complicated factors can be blamed for these grave mistakes in history. We need to learn fast from our grave errors, to slow down the damage we have already bestowed on our beautiful planet.

On return from one of the more soul destroying photography missions, he and his wife decided to replant the arid home land of his childhood in Brazil, and turn the barren wasteland into a lush forest. What I loved about this movie, was the backbone of his wife. She was responsible for the actualising of Salgado’s images, she would fine tune his images, design the production and turn the random images into a polished publication. Her strength was admirable. Salgado spent many years away at a time overseas on photography missions, where they were separated physically, but never were they emotionally apart, they always remained good partners. A creative understanding was given, they worked as a team, but so independently. She was a mother to their children, and showed such admirable strength in character and independence, and also seemed a wealth of ideas. It was her idea to transform the family farm into a forest, and it gave them all so much joy, and will forever continue to have a very positive impact for future generations.

His Father was filmed earlier in time, looking quite aged, previously strong you could see, but now frail with age and weary with emotion. He appeared very saddened by drought, what was once a lush oasis full of animals and trees and birds, was now a dry arid sandpit, even the cows looked starved.

Salgado and his wife, the next generation, dedicated their lives to the replenishment of the land, and with great success. Millions of seedlings were planted and in years gone by, in film only minutes, there appeared a green, bird twittering, tropical forest. Animals had returned, water had reappeared, it really was a miracle. They had turned the land into a sanctuary and classified it as a national parkland, forever to be preserved and appreciated for its beauty.

The resurrection of this forest, felt symbolic of the potentiality all humans have on this earth. Life can be renewed, we have the capacity to make huge improvements to our natural environment, for the betterment of the animals, environment and for ourselves. He managed to cover the full spectrum of human ability, from complete annihilation to ultimate resurrection. A truly wonderful and empowering film. I have walked away with the motivation to take a million photos and to plant a million trees. Anything is possible, the power of taking action and making your dreams a reality again is my main message and one laced persistently throughout the production of Salgado’s work.

My own images above to show how I am making my dreams a reality, by doing the things I really want to do with my life. This was taken on a cruise through Doubtful Sound near Queenstown. I aim to inspire you to also live your dreams!

Thanks Sebastiao Salgado for being such an amazing and inspiring human.

Hope you have enjoyed my film review. Please go see this wonderful film if you can.

Anita xx

“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi.

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