Movie review: Photographer doc "The Salt of the Earth" almost feels like a photo exhibit

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In the age of the smart phone, everyone is a photographer. I’m as guilty as anyone of thinking I’m some sort of Instagram artiste, but I’ve also known enough professional photographers over the years to know the reality.

“The Salt of the Earth” spans the decades of photographer Sebastião Salgado’s epic career. It’s a moving tribute to Salgado, co-directed by filmmaker Wim Wenders and Salgado’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

For the last 40 years, Salgado has traveled the globe capturing stunning black-and-white images of the faces of humanity — projects have focused on workers, refugees and more — and later nature.

Salgado’s images are stark and moving, and seeing them span the screen in a darkened theater makes this feels like an amazing photo exhibit with the photographer present. The ubiquitous “Ken Burns effect” of panning and zooming across still images is mercifully absent here. Salgado’s photos are presented full-frame, and the camera lingers on them long enough to let the viewer take in the details. Theatrical viewing is recommended for the full effect.

Beside the photos, we get a portrait of the photographer himself, as the elder Salgado recounts stories of the travels that lead him all over the planet (and away from his family).

So before you get too excited over that cool filter you ran on that picture of a duck at Goodale Park, check out a portrait of a true artist.

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

"The Salt of the Earth"

Opens Friday

3 ½ stars out of 4