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The Salt of the Earth (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 109 minutes.

OK for children.

This is not just a wonderful documentary about one of the greatest social photographers of the generation, Sebasti‚o Salgado, itís a picture of the brutal life of survival in the worlds far beyond our shores. While there might be poverty and deprivation in some parts of the United States, itís nothing compared with what you see in this film.

Salgado traveled to some of the great disasters of the age, and photographed them. This film shows the horror of the oil fires set by the monster Saddam Hussein of Iraq. It shows the brutality visited on the Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994, a massacre about which President Bill Clinton to his shame did not lift a finger to help (nor did the United Nations), even though he committed Americaís air might to save the white Muslims against the Serbs in Croatia. So 1,000,000 black people were slaughtered in Africa by other blacks while the world yawned.

But itís not just disasters, international conflicts, starvation, and exodus that he covers. He follows the Zo'ť tribe, a recently discovered tribe that the world thought had died out centuries ago, photographing them hunting through one of the last largely unexplored rainforests in Brazil and gets some amazing pictures. All the Indians are stark naked, which is the way of life in the rainforest, and they all have a wooden plug piercing their lower lip. This could be the most amazing and eye-opening segment of the film but thatís hard to say because the entire film is eye-opening.

The film also shows how Sebasti‚o and his wife, Leila, took his barren homestead in South America and created a new rainforest by planting millions of trees. The before and after pictures are stunning.

But what will stay with you forever are the magnificent shots of the poor African people that he risked his life to get. There are many of them from many different parts of the continent and they are heart-breaking. These innocent people were/are persecuted by war and vicious African tribes. The lives they lead are strictly lives of survival. If you think people have it bad in Detroit and Chicago where the downtrodden still have places to live and TV and cell phones and transportation and markets, you wonít think that after you see this film. It is just an amazing journey. I was transfixed throughout. This is a mesmerizing film not to be missed.