Must Watch: The Salt of the Earth

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An Oscar-nominated film tells the emotional life story of Sebastião Salgado. A life adventure of more than 40 years, documenting life, despair, love and redemption.

The Salt of the Earth is a biographical documentary film by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. It is a visual and emotional journey through the life and work of the eminent photographer Sebastião Salgado.

Sebastião Salgado graduated from the University of Sao Paolo with degree in Economics and worked as an economist for the International Coffee Organization.

He was often travelling to Africa for the World Bank. His wife, Lélia, was the reason he started taking photos as while she was working as an architect she got herself a camera for her work but Sebastião was the person having all the fun with it.



In 1973 he leaves his job as an economist and starts working as a freelance photographer, a decision which roots in his regular trips in Africa, specifically in Ruanda and Niger.

The film is an adventure and exploration of the life and work of Sebastião Salgado. Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado show the public a talented humanist, whose photographs reveal the human nature and the consequences of human actions in different parts of the world.



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This emotional voyage is a bit surreal – a journey into the darkness and light. Sebastião has witnessed and captured some of the most terrible moments in human history. He documented extreme hunger, violent killings, military wars, droughts and massacres. In the film, he says that sometimes he was putting the camera down and was crying.

No wonder after so many years of documenting the most terrible human actions, Sebastião decides to go back to his motherland with his family to revive his father’s farm. A place which he remembers as a little boy being a land full of trees, wild animals and waterfalls and a place that has been affected by an extreme drought. It was his wife again who gave the idea of bringing back life to the land.







The film, being a rather dark story of the people’s actions, ends with a positive vibe, as for many years Lélia and Sebastião planted over 2,5 million trees making the dry land alive again. I take the final minutes of the film as a metaphor and a message to all of us that we can try to be better and make the Earth a better place.

This a truly touching story that will make you angry, sad, worried but it will also make you believe again in the good will of changing life of the people suffering in all parts of the world. This film will make you humble and open your eyes to the life of the others that are affected by different challenging circumstanced. I would strongly recommend everyone to watch this amazing story.

Images – © Sebastião Salgado

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