Movie Reviews

Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, the salt of the earth.

movie review salt of the earth

Now streaming on:

Although best known as the director of such celebrated films as "Kings of the Road," "Paris, Texas," " Wings of Desire " and " Until the End of the World ," filmmaker Wim Wenders has also carved out a second career for himself as a documentarian with a special focus on artistic endeavors and the people behind them. Over the years, he has taken a look at such diverse subjects as the life and work of directors Nicholas Ray ("Lightning Over Water") and Yasujiro Ozu ("Tokyo-Ga"), fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto ("Notebooks on Cities and Clothes"), musical history past and present ("Buena Vista Social Club," "Ode to Cologne: A Rock 'N' Roll Film" and "The Soul of a Man") and choreographer Pina Bausch ("Pina"). For his latest documentary, "The Salt of the Earth," one of the nominees for this year's Oscar for Best Documentary, Wenders trains his camera on photographer Sebastiao Salgado and the result, though not without flaws, is an invigorating and interesting observation of the man, his work and the entire medium of photography.

As the film reveals, the Brazilian-born Salgado originally studied economics and worked for the World Bank in France after being exiled from his home country in 1969, before deciding to give it all up in order to pursue a career in photography. After his first major project, a photographic chronicle of South America that allowed him to at least get near to his homeland (his exile would eventually end in 1980), he began a series of expansive projects in which he used his keen eye and ability to create striking images to create works that allowed viewers to bear witness to glimmers of hope and humanity in the face of almost unimaginable misery. "The Workers," for example, famously illustrated such locations as a massive Sierra Pelada mine and the countless people employed to dig out the gold in the hopes that their back-breaking labor will one day pay off and the burning oil fields of Kuwait in the wake of Desert Storm. "Sahel," which he produced in conjunction with Doctors Without Borders, looked at the famine in Ethiopia and the attempt by many to journey to what they hoped to be a better life in the Sudan. In a similar vein, "Exodus" looked at the plight of refugees from Rwanda and Yugoslavia during their respective troubles in the Nineties.

Having "seen into the heart of darkness" (as Wenders puts it in his occasionally purple narration) for so long, a burned-out Selgado returned to Brazil to the drought-stricken remains of his family's once-thriving farm and embarked on a plan of replanting and reviving the land that he dubbed "Instituto Terra." Not only did this effort help begin to bring the farm back to life, it would spread, first to other parts of Brazil and then worldwide. It would also lead to Salgado's most recent project, a collaboration with son Juliano (himself a documentarian who receives a co-directing credit here) entitled "Genesis" that took them from Papua New Guinea to Siberia to chronicle lands and people who have managed to retain their natural ways in the face of the planet's seemingly unstoppable march towards destruction that stands in blessed relief to the horrors he had shown in the past.

One of the challenges that any documentarian must face in making a film about an artist in a particular field is to figure out a way to channel that person's craft into meaningful cinematic terms while still remaining true to the work being examined. Wenders pulls this off through a couple of fascinating artistic choices. While the black-and-white cinematography (Juliano Selgago shot the color footage) that he employs may not be that surprising to fans of his work (it is a choice that he has employed with great skill over the years, especially in the visually stunning "Wings of Desire"), his use of it this time around in collaboration with cinematographer Hugo Barbier certainly evokes the similarly monochromatic look of Salgado's work, especially in the distinct methods of employing light, shadow and space in the compositions. Another striking idea that Wenders deploys here is to project several of Selgado's most famous images in a way that allows Selgado's face to appear to emerge from the works themselves as he offers up memories of those particular shoots. 

I do have a couple of quibbles with "The Salt of the Earth," however. For one, while it does make a strong case for Salgado's undeniable artistic achievements, it does not really go into the nuts and bolts of his process—there is nothing to speak of regarding his photographic influences or how he actually goes about capturing his images. More troublingly, although some critics have charged him with transforming the miseries of the Third World into attractive images for Westerners to gaze at in art galleries, there is no discussion of the moral and ethical repercussions of his work to be had here. Although they do not fatally damage the film as a whole, their absence does leave a bit of a hole at the center of the proceedings that cannot be denied. For the most part, however, "The Salt of the Earth" is a visually stunning and oftentimes affecting tribute to one artist from another. 

Peter Sobczynski

Peter Sobczynski

A moderately insightful critic, full-on Swiftie and all-around  bon vivant , Peter Sobczynski, in addition to his work at this site, is also a contributor to The Spool and can be heard weekly discussing new Blu-Ray releases on the Movie Madness podcast on the Now Playing network.

Now playing

movie review salt of the earth

Bob Marley: One Love

Robert daniels.

movie review salt of the earth

The Promised Land

Sheila o'malley.

movie review salt of the earth

Out of Darkness

Glenn kenny.

movie review salt of the earth

Code 8 Part II

Marya e. gates.

movie review salt of the earth

Monica Castillo

movie review salt of the earth

Amelia’s Children

Simon abrams, film credits.

The Salt of the Earth movie poster

The Salt of the Earth (2015)

Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving disturbing images of violence and human suffering, and for nudity

110 minutes

Sebastião Salgado as Himsel

Juliano Ribeiro Salgado as Narrator (voice)

Wim Wenders as Narrator (voice)

Hugo Barbier as Himself

  • Juliano Ribeiro Salgado
  • Wim Wenders

Latest blog posts

movie review salt of the earth

Danny Boyle Explains What Made Cillian Murphy So Special from the Start

movie review salt of the earth

Oscar Predictions 2024: What Will Win This Year

movie review salt of the earth

Paul Dano is Ready for His Next Mission

movie review salt of the earth

The Unloved, Part 123: Birth


The most comprehensive and authoritative history site on the Internet.

Salt of the Earth : The Movie Hollywood Could Not Stop

When director Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront opened in 1954, critics and audiences hailed the gritty movie about Hoboken dockworkers and applauded Marlon Brando’s performance as the ex-boxer who ‘coulda been a contender.’ At the next Academy Awards ceremony, On the Waterfront won Oscars for best film, best director, best actor, and best supporting actress.

Another movie about beleaguered workers opened to quite a different reception that same year. Like Kazan’s film, Salt of the Earth was based on an actual situation, in this case a mining strike in New Mexico. Both movies were shot on location with the participation of those who had lived the real stories. And both movies shared a history in the Hollywood blacklist. There the similarities ended. Kazan and his writer, Budd Schulberg, had both named names — identified movie people they said were Communists — when questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Some saw their movie, in which Brando’s character testifies against the racketeers who run the docks, as an allegory in support of informing. The people behind Salt , in contrast, were unrepentant blacklistees whose leftist political affiliations derailed their careers during the Red scares of the 1950s. On the Waterfront was a hit and is remembered as a classic film. The makers of Salt of the Earth struggled to find theater owners willing to show their incendiary movie.

It required a great deal of optimism to make a left-leaning movie like Salt of the Earth in the early 1950s, but director Herbert Biberman was, by many accounts, a great optimist. The director of now-forgotten films such as Meet Nero Wolfe and The Master Race , Biberman had helped found the Screen Directors Guild, which later became the Directors Guild of America. He was also a Communist and one of many movie professionals who found inspiration in the Soviet Union — or at least what dictator Joseph Stalin allowed the world to see of the Soviet Union. Throughout the 1930s, the Communist Party USA remained active in Hollywood, establishing guilds to give writers and actors bargaining clout against the studios, and fighting against Fascism abroad by championing the Spanish Republic and rallying against the Third Reich. Stalin’s pact with Adolf Hitler in 1939 disillusioned many a Beverly Hills Bolshevik, though some, like Biberman, remained unswayed.

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, the Soviet Union became an ally, and Hollywood began to make movies that celebrated our newfound comrades. Those films returned to haunt the movie industry when World War II ended and the Cold War pitted the United States against the Soviet Union. Suddenly the U.S. government began casting a critical eye on the movie industry, and HUAC began investigating Communist influences on the silver screen.

HUAC’s most visible targets were the so-called Hollywood Ten, filmmakers the committee charged with contempt of Congress in 1947 after they refused to answer questions about Communist affiliations. In 1950 the Supreme Court declined to consider the filmmakers’ appeals, and the Hollywood Ten began serving their sentences. Herbert Biberman, 50, served six months at a federal institution at Texarkana, Texas. Incarcerated with him was another of the Ten, writer Alvah Bessie. Compared to the ebullient Biberman, Bessie was a dour cynic. He cringed at Biberman’s incessant good manners and his penchant for preaching politics to guards and prisoners, but he did have to admire Biberman’s dedication to his beliefs, especially when he learned that the director had offered to serve six extra months to get Bessie released earlier.

In 1951, HUAC increased the pressure on the movie industry with a new batch of subpoenas for Communist Party USA members, past members, and even non-affiliated liberals. The studios fell in line and expanded their unofficial blacklist. Actors, producers, directors, and other industry professionals whom the studios deemed tainted by leftist beliefs suddenly found themselves unemployable. Biberman, fellow Ten member and producer Adrian Scott, theater owner Simon Lazarus, and blacklisted screenwriter Paul Jarrico saw possibilities for that discarded talent. They teamed up to form Independent Productions Corporation and set out to find a story to tell.

Jarrico found the subject matter while on a family vacation in New Mexico, where he heard about a mining strike in Grant County. The strikers were predominantly Mexican Americans, members of the Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers, a union the Congress of Industrialized Organizations (CIO) ejected in 1949 for alleged Communist influences. The strikers demanded that the Empire Zinc Corporation give them the same benefits and wages it gave the region’s Anglo miners. ‘The central issue, really, was dignity, equality, being treated like anybody else,’ remembers Clinton Jencks, a decorated World War II veteran the union sent to help out Local 890. He found that company housing for Mexican Americans lacked indoor plumbing and that the company organization was stacked in favor of Anglo workers. ‘They had separate change rooms, separate payrolls, separate places to eat your lunch, strict locks on promotions with all the better jobs reserved for Anglos,’ Jencks says. ‘We eventually broke all that down, but it was very consciously being used as a way to keep people fighting each other instead of the company.’

The strike nearly collapsed after eight months when Empire Zinc opened the mine to scab labor and obtained a court injunction prohibiting union pickets on company property. Then the wives and mothers of the union’s Ladies’ Auxiliary circumvented the injunction by marching in place of the men.

Jarrico was invigorated by what he had seen. The filmmakers had found their story. Biberman would direct and Jarrico would take on the role of producer, as Adrian Scott dropped out due to illness. Jarrico asked his brother-in-law and fellow blacklistee, Michael Wilson, to write the screenplay. Wilson traveled to Grant County and attended union meetings, visited the miners’ homes, and watched and listened as the strike unfolded.

It was a violent time. ‘The company would hire guys who were out-and-out gunmen and send them over to the sheriff and the sheriff would deputize them,’ says Jencks. At one point the sheriff locked up 45 women and 17 children, an action that appalled New Mexico’s governor. In late summer, strikers descended upon three carloads of strikebreakers nearing the company entrance. The scabs attempted to push their cars past the picketers and knocked down three women. A strikebreaker shot into the crowd, wounding a picketer in the leg. News of the confrontation flashed through the mining district. Nearby mines emptied as their workers went to bolster the picket line.

The strike was settled on January 21, 1952. The company agreed to higher wages and insurance benefits but denied the union’s demand for paid holidays and remuneration for all time spent underground. Although it wasn’t part of the settlement, the company soon provided hot running water for the miners’ homes.

For Wilson, the strike provided an opportunity to tell a story that wove together the struggles of Mexican Americans, labor, and women. He saw the dramatic potential to examine how the mineworkers reacted when their wives took over the picket lines and they had to sit on the sidelines. And he wanted to tell the story from the participants’ point of view and use their feedback to fine-tune his screenplay. So when he finished his script treatment, Wilson took it to Grant County. People there objected to one scene where the main character had an extramarital fling and another in which he purchased whiskey with his last paycheck. Wilson cut the scenes. They were perfectly acceptable as drama, he explained to his partners, ‘But we’re dealing with something else. Not just people. A people.’ As Wilson labored to complete a final script over the next year, he had union members and their wives look over all his drafts.

In the meantime, Simon Lazarus began the process of assembling a crew. When he approached Roy Brewer, head of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Union (IATSE), Brewer, not surprisingly, refused to cooperate. ‘There has been a real Communist plot to capture our unions in Hollywood,’ he had told HUAC in 1947. Furthermore, Brewer warned Lazarus that further association with the blacklistees would finish the theater owner’s career.

Producer Paul Jarrico, a diehard Communist whose optimism may have even surpassed Biberman’s, remained undeterred. He was not someone who would back down from a fight, as Howard Hughes, who owned the RKO studio, learned when he removed Jarrico’s writing credit from The Las Vegas Story . Jarrico sued him but lost. (He finally received the credit, posthumously, in 1998.) So despite Brewer’s stand, Jarrico began scouring the country for craft people willing to ignore industry edicts. Some were blacklistees, others were documentary filmmakers who wanted to break into features, or greenhorns eager for experience.

Finding a cast would be equally difficult. Anglo actors such as Will Geer and David Wolfe, both blacklisted, signed on as the sheriff and the chief foreman, respectively. The lead roles proved more difficult to fill. The filmmakers first cast a blacklisted white actor for the role of the striking miner, Ramon, and picked Biberman’s wife, blacklisted actress Gale Sondergaard, as Ramon’s wife, Esperenza. Realizing the hypocrisy of this casting, they started looking for Mexican-American actors, with no luck. In Mexico, the company found award-winning actress Rosaura Revueltas, whose young career included only a few films. They signed her to play Esperenza. But when the production arrived in Silver City, New Mexico, in January 1953, it still lacked a male lead.

Clinton Jencks remembers the community’s initial response to the Hollywood attention. ‘They found it hard to believe that their lives were interesting enough to make a movie,’ says Jencks. ‘I think we romanticized the Hollywood people, and the Hollywood people romanticized us.’ Some locals pitched in to help build a mine façade on the ranch of Alford Roos, an elderly independent mine owner, archeologist, explorer, writer, and rifle-toting Mohammedan with Jeffersonian political leanings. Roos rented his land to the filmmakers for one dollar. Many other locals found roles in front of the camera. Biberman hired the Roderick brothers, two lanky white miners from another union, to play redneck deputies. Local 890 vice-president Ernesto Velasquez portrayed a union official. Jencks played the Anglo representative from the union’s headquarters, his real-life role, and his activist wife, Virginia, played her counterpart on screen. The production cast other members of Local 890 as miners and their wives.

Juan Chacon was the union’s newly elected president, and both Revueltas and Biberman’s sister-in-law, Sonja Dahl Biberman, suggested that the director consider him to play Ramon. The director thought that ‘Johnny’ Chacon was too gentle, too small, and too shy for the part, but he let him audition. Chacon gave an unimpressive reading, but the women insisted he had potential. With only three weeks left until shooting, the exasperated director finally decided to take a chance and cast Chacon as Ramon.

Throughout the shooting, Biberman marveled as Chacon grew into the part of Ramon. ‘We found we didn’t have to ‘act’,’ Chacon would later write about the experience. ‘El Biberman, as we came to call him, was happiest when we were just ourselves.’ In the first scene Biberman shot with dialogue, Jencks’ character restrains Ramon from attacking the foreman. The material touched sensitive nerves, and Biberman let the tension build. Afterwards, if Biberman still doubted that Chacon could get into character, Jencks had the bruises to prove he could.

At the end of January, the miners and their wives flocked to Silver City’s theater to watch the first ‘rushes,’ and they laughed and applauded at their images on the big screen. Yet even as the movie progressed, storm clouds were forming. A Silver City schoolteacher wrote to Walter Pidgeon, president of the Screen Actors Guild, and expressed concern that a Communist film company was manipulating the local Mexican Americans. Soon the media and the government began scrutinizing the maverick movie troupe. Columnist Victor Riesel pointed out the production’s proximity to the Los Alamos atomic research facility. Congressman Donald Jackson said the film was ‘deliberately designed to inflame racial hatreds and to depict the United States of America as the enemy of all colored peoples.’ It was, he said, ‘a new weapon for Russia.’

The critical reaction created problems. Pathé Laboratories suddenly refused to process the daily rushes, so Biberman could no longer review each day’s work and had to print scenes blind. Immigration officials came for Revueltas — they had sudden concerns about her passport — and deported her back to Mexico. Biberman had to use a stand-in for some sequences, but he still needed the actress for voice-overs and frontal shots. Eventually, Revueltas recorded narration under clandestine circumstances in a dismantled Mexican sound studio, and the crew shot final footage of her in Mexico and then smuggled it like contraband over the border.

‘It’s Time To Choose Sides,’ read a headline in the Silver City Daily Press . Late one night in early March, someone fired shots into Clint Jencks’ parked car. The next day two carloads of troublemakers broke up the filming in front of the union hall. Jencks emerged from the fracas with a black eye, and the violent crowd nearly destroyed the camera. That night the vigilantes selected 10 emissaries to relay an ultimatum to the movie people: If they did not leave by noon the next day they would leave in black boxes. The sheriff was forced to call in the state police, who kept the peace as the crew finished the final scenes. Several weeks later someone burned the home of one of the film’s Anglo miners.

The film was still far from completed. Now the laborious job of post-production — the assembly and polishing of the film — began, and the movie industry made the process more difficult by throwing up as many roadblocks as it could. As Howard Hughes explained in a letter to Congressman Donald Jackson, the studios could effectively kill the picture if they denied the production access to the facilities they needed — to edit, dub, score, and otherwise prepare the movie for theaters.

Biberman and Jarrico refused to quit. They found a company willing to process the film after several labs refused, and they recruited an editor and installed him in a house in Topanga Canyon, north of Los Angeles. The editor, who had worked only on documentaries, proved unsuitable. Worse, the tin-roofed editing quarters became so hot the film began to shrivel. As the filmmakers scrambled to find another editor, they moved operations into the ladies room of an empty theater that Simon Lazarus owned in Pasadena. After firemen came snooping they relocated again, this time to a vacant studio in Burbank. By the time it was finished the film used four editors, one of whom was an FBI informer.

By the beginning of 1954, the moviemakers had turned their raw footage into a movie. The next hurdle would be finding theaters to show it. Roy Brewer, the anti-Communist head of the IATSE, represented projectionists, and he was hardly likely to steer Salt on to movie screens. As he wrote to Congressman Jackson, ‘The Hollywood AFL Council assures you that everything which it can do to prevent the showing of The Salt of the Earth will be done.’ In New York City the production found a theater owner whose projectionists belonged to a different union. After much persuasion he agreed to host the film’s opening. Salt of the Earth premiered at the Grande Theater on March 14, 1954, to mostly positive reviews. The New York Times ‘ Bosley Crowther wrote that ‘an unusual company made up largely of actual miners and their families plays the drama exceedingly well.’ While several found it unfairly pro-labor, few saw it pro-Red, save a young writer named Pauline Kael, who wrote that it was ‘as clear a piece of Communist propaganda as we have had in many years.’

Communist or not, lines such as ‘This installment plan, it’s the curse of the working man,’ indicate the shortcomings of writing for ‘a people’ instead of people. In his account of the blacklist era, writer Stefan Kanfer referred to Wilson’s ‘clanking, agitprop prose.’ In some scenes the shortcomings of an inexperienced crew and amateur cast are obvious. Elia Kazan may have named names, but with On the Waterfront he also made the superior picture. Salt ran at the Grande for nine weeks, taking in a more-than-respectable $50,000, and opened in another dozen or so American theaters. The film was warmly received overseas, especially in France, and it won the grand prize from the Paris Academy of Film. Salt also triumphed at its premiere in Mexico City, where audiences considered Rosaura Revueltas a star. In 1956 the film company filed an anti-trust suit charging more than 100 industry figures with conspiracy. That done, Biberman and Jarrico resigned from the company to move on to other work. After eight years of litigation, they lost their suit.

Today the movie is largely forgotten, but the passions and upheaval behind its creation have refused to completely die away. When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it would give director Elia Kazan a lifetime achievement award at the 1999 Academy Award ceremonies, it reopened wounds that had not yet healed. In the end, Kazan received his award without incident.

Many of the people blacklisted never found work in movies again. Some writers found employment by working under pseudonyms or having acceptable writers ‘front’ for them. Michael Wilson won Oscar attention for his scripts, even though his name did not appear on the final films. In later, friendlier years he would get credit for writing Friendly Persuasion and for his contributions to The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia .

Biberman developed land in Los Angeles and wrote a book, Salt of the Earth: The Story of a Film , published in 1965. He directed one more movie, Slaves , a poorly received variation on Uncle Tom’s Cabin . He died of bone cancer in 1971.

Jarrico wrote scripts in Europe and returned to the United States in the late 60s, his Communist years long behind him. ‘I’m probably the only writer who has been blacklisted on both sides of the Iron Curtain,’ he said. He found television work and wrote films such as The Day That Shook the World . He also fought to get blacklisted writers the screen credits denied them. He died in 1997 in an automobile accident near Ojai, California, at the age of 82. The day before he had received honors at a star-studded Beverly Hills soiree entitled ‘Hollywood Remembers The Blacklist.’

This article was written by Steve Boisson and originally published in the February 2002 issue of American History Magazine. For more great articles, subscribe to American History magazine today!

Related stories

movie review salt of the earth

Portfolio: Images of War as Landscape

Whether they produced battlefield images of the dead or daguerreotype portraits of common soldiers, […]

movie review salt of the earth

Jerrie Mock: Record-Breaking American Female Pilot

In 1964 an Ohio woman took up the challenge that had led to Amelia Earhart’s disappearance.

movie review salt of the earth

To Depict the Frontier Era with Authenticity, This Artist Walks in the Footsteps of Mountain Men

After returning home from Vietnam, David Wright turned his attention to the edgier side of the Old West.

A tree-lined stretch of the Rio Grande

This British Colonel Traveled with Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. He’d Already Had His Share of Surprises.

Arthur Fremantle stumbled upon a murder while in the Rio Grande.

Things you buy through our links may earn  Vox Media  a commission.

Movie Review: The Salt of the Earth Is a Look at Two Masters at Work

Portrait of Bilge Ebiri

When I was a kid in the 1980s, Wim Wenders and Sebastiao Salgado were two of the biggest Capital-A Artists in the world: Wenders, the German director who made stoic road movies full of existential longing and wide-open spaces, and whose films were issued in black VHS editions with a huge “WENDERS” on the cover; Salgado, the Brazilian photographer who took images of suffering and labor and war and ruin and turned them into something sensuous and unreal, whose reproductions populated every middlebrow poster store. They had achieved what serious artists simultaneously dread and fantasize about: They had become  brands . But there was a very real achievement beneath the commodification, too. Wenders’s cinematic despair was no less sincere for being fashionable, and Salgado’s willingness to go to the most treacherous places and work under the most intense conditions to get his shots came from a place of genuine artistic inquiry and human anger.

That becomes clear in The Salt of the Earth , a documentary about Salgado made by Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, the photographer’s son. It’s a fascinating meeting of three minds, and perspectives. Chief among them is Salgado himself, narrating the story of his life, of how he fled the Brazilian dictatorship and then abandoned a promising career as an economist to pursue a crazy artistic passion. He would traverse the world, using his hauntingly expressive photographs to expose the harsh existence of his fellow humans. Meanwhile, we hear Juliano, the son, ruminating on a father who was often absent, and Wenders, the admiring outsider, brought in by the younger Salgado to collaborate on this bizarre project. Given this fractured-three-ways perspective, it’s surprising how smoothly The Salt of the Earth moves, how gracefully it switches back and forth between the personal and the objective.

The film is steeped in melancholy. Salgado has had success, fame, and money, but he has also spent much of his life among refugees, war victims, and slaves, and he seems to suffer from something resembling post-traumatic stress. Retiring to his family farm, itself devastated by drought, he tries to repair the landscape around it — an attempt, perhaps, to achieve some kind of tangible healing in a world whose wounds he spent so many years portraying.

What about the contention by some critics that Salgado overtly aestheticized human misery? The film doesn’t directly address that, but it probably doesn’t feel it needs to. The whole point of the movie is that Salgado wanted to reveal the suffering of his fellow man. The fact that he found beauty there, at least in this film’s view, speaks not to callousness or opportunism but an honest belief that beautiful art can cross borders and win hearts and minds. The beauty draws you, while the tragedy compels you. And Salgado’s journey also speaks to something more in keeping with Wenders’s work. Here is a man trying to punch away, in his own way, at the indifference of the world. That’s not so different from the director’s earlier road movies.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about The Salt of the Earth is its ability to revel in the work itself. In his documentaries, Wenders has tended to focus on other creative figures. When I interviewed him recently , he said that he thinks the creative process is “the last great adventure left on our planet.” And, as he did with Pina and with The Buena Vista Social Club , he’s more than happy to cede the screen to the artist at hand: The Salt of the Earth is replete with Salgado’s photography, and the images, seen in succession on a screen, have a mesmerizing effect. Watching Salgado work — giving up on a shoot because he couldn’t find the right background, for example — you realize the thinking and planning that goes behind the shot. A thing of beauty can also be a mechanism, a network of verticals and horizontals and backgrounds and foregrounds. The result may be ineffable, but it’s still constructed from something by somebody.   The Salt of the Earth lays bare the artifice, even as it lets the mystery be.

Most Viewed Stories

  • Cinematrix No. 5: March 1, 2024
  • Glasgow’s Sad Oompa Loompa Isn’t Gonna Sugarcoat This
  • Here’s What You Missed Last Time on Dune
  • Is This What Heterosexuality Is?
  • What We Know (and What We Desperately Hope) Will Happen in Dune: Part Three
  • Shōgun Series-Premiere Recap: Turning the Tide

Editor’s Picks

movie review salt of the earth

Most Popular

What is your email.

This email will be used to sign into all New York sites. By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy and to receive email correspondence from us.

Sign In To Continue Reading

Create your free account.

Password must be at least 8 characters and contain:

  • Lower case letters (a-z)
  • Upper case letters (A-Z)
  • Numbers (0-9)
  • Special Characters (!@#$%^&*)

As part of your account, you’ll receive occasional updates and offers from New York , which you can opt out of anytime.

Adam Sandler gets serious in sci-fi flick Spaceman

Director johan renck says film's message is 'a bit of an atonement' for men on earth.

movie review salt of the earth

Social Sharing

The inspiration for Johan Renck's new film Spaceman is more down-to-earth than one might expect.

Although the sci-fi flick revolves around a Czech astronaut venturing into mysterious purple space dust, Renck says what drew him to the script was the main character's relation to his own life and to the broader experiences of men with feet planted firmly on Earth.

"This is 100 per cent a film about myself — a previous version of myself," Renck told CBC News.

Spaceman,  based on Jaroslav Kalfař's 2017 novel Spaceman of Bohemia , follows astronaut Jakub Procházka as he realizes his marriage is falling apart at the worst possible time: when he's six months into a year-long solo mission in space.

Portrayed by an uncharacteristically sombre Adam Sandler, Jakub begins to recognize how his career ambitions and selfish pursuits have damaged his relationship with his pregnant wife, Lenka, played by Carey Mulligan. His only comfort is a large spider-like alien named Hanus (voiced by Paul Dano) who helps him come to terms with his grief but may or may not actually exist outside of his imagination.

Renck, now happily married with a family, says he came to similar realizations that he used to prioritize his own wants and needs above those close to him — and left behind a "string of broken marriages" and relationships as a result. Spaceman was a way to keep others from making similar mistakes.

movie review salt of the earth

Adam Sandler, director Johan Renck explore loss and regret in Spaceman

"What a terrible human being and what a miserable life I had when I was that person," Renck said. "It's time to talk about this. Because I think everybody is dealing with aspects of miscommunication based on their own wants and needs and how you prioritize those."

The Swedish director both created the highly lauded 2019 HBO miniseries  Chernobyl  and directed David Bowie in his final two music videos.  Spaceman 's study on loneliness and regret is Renck reaching out to men in particular.

"Traditionally, you know, [we have lived] a thousand years of patriarchy in which the choices of the man are guiding whatever everybody else has to relate to," he said. "So, it's a bit of an atonement here for all us men and all the vanities that we've been kind of pursuing in terms of success or whatever it may be."

A large spider is inside of a spaceship.

Adam Sandler takes on sombre lead role

Adam Sandler may seem like a peculiar choice to play such a serious role — and the actor sounds over the moon to have pulled it off.

"Man, oh man. Never, never thought I'd be in a movie like this," Sandler said in an interview with CBC News. "It looks so cool, sounds so cool."

Known for starring in slapstick comedies, including classics Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison , as well as acclaimed dramas Punch-Drunk Love and Uncut Gems , Sandler says the script caught his interest immediately for the romance, heartbreak and "looking back at things and realizing I'm not handling them right."

A man wearing a yellow T-shirt floats inside a spaceship.

Renck says Sandler was exactly the man he was looking for.

"I was super excited to work with an actor of his talents and skills, and actually I'm drawn to comedians playing serious roles, because I do believe in the sort of theory of when you deprive them of the comedy, they kind of become more naked than anybody else would be," he said.

Sandler portrays the despondent astronaut, languishing in zero gravity on a mission to collect the purple space dust while communicating sporadically with humans on Earth through technician Peter, played by Kunal Nayyar of The Big Bang Theory . He says his character's loneliness was underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which much of the Netflix movie was filmed, adding another dimension to Jakub's feelings of detachment.

  • Group Chat Are we in an Adam Sandler-ssance?
  • Director Sammi Cohen on making a Jewish bat mitzvah movie starring Adam Sandler and family

"It was during a time that you weren't free to have people come to your home and just hang out, or you had to be careful who was coming around. So yeah, I spent a lot of time alone and did connect to that," Sandler said.

Dano, whose character offers sparse comic relief, says he's had recurring nightmares about spiders but cherished the role of the wise intergalactic arachnid from a lost civilization, despite its unsettling physical appearance.

"It was a doula-like spirit guide ... and I thought that that was really beautiful," he said.


movie review salt of the earth

Digital writer

Kevin Maimann is a senior writer for CBC News based in Edmonton. He has covered a wide range of topics for publications including VICE, Toronto Star, Xtra Magazine and the Edmonton Journal. You can reach Kevin by email at [email protected].

With files from Makda Ghebreslassie

Related Stories

  • Johan Renck, director of David Bowie's 'Blackstar' video, calls collaborative process 'a dream'
  • Entertainment

‘The Salt of the Earth’ captures images of beauty, brutality

A movie review of “The Salt of the Earth”: Wim Wenders co-directed this Oscar-nominated tribute to the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.

Share story

Now in his early 70s, Sebastião Salgado is more than a great Brazilian photographer. He’s a witness to worldwide recent history, much of it appalling to behold.

If there’s a massacre in Rwanda or a cholera epidemic in Ethiopia or a problem that Doctors Without Borders is helpless to solve, he’ll be there to record the event. Brutal dictatorships are almost routine in his experience, and so are even more outrageous examples of man’s inhumanity to man.

In the Oscar-nominated new documentary “The Salt of the Earth,” co-directed by Salgado’s son, Juliano, and veteran filmmaker Wim Wenders, the opening scenes emphasize the beauty, greed and terror of a mining expedition. The details are stunning, the spectacle suggesting the sweep and depth of a Bosch painting.

Movie Review ★★★  

‘The Salt of the Earth,’ a documentary directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribelro Salgado. 110 minutes. Rated PG-13 for images of violence, human suffering, and nudity. In French and Portuguese with English subtitles. Seven Gables.

The versatile, prolific Wenders, who seems equally comfortable with fantasy (“Wings of Desire”), drama (“Paris, Texas”) and documentaries (“Buena Vista Social Club”), doesn’t always find the right key when he and his co-director present this parade of depravity.

Most Read Entertainment Stories

  • THING festival reveals new location, Timber announces lineup
  • Film director who was shot by Alec Baldwin says it felt like being hit by a baseball bat
  • Artist tells her family’s complex story in comic book-style memoir
  • What Bad Bunny's sold-out Seattle concert means for local Latin music fans
  • 9 new paperbacks to get you through March

The photographs of atrocities are bound in expensive-looking volumes, as part of a collection of images that seem too glossy in these surroundings. There’s something off-puttingly packaged about these episodes — and the very idea of presenting them this way.

The juxtaposition is reminiscent of Jean-Luc Godard’s scruffy 1963 military satire, “Les Carabiniers,” in which weary soldiers return from their conquests to show off their loot: a collection of picture postcards that represent the tourist sites they have conquered.

But the authenticity and artistry of the images in “The Salt of the Earth” cannot be denied. In any context, they’d be unforgettable.

Screen Rant

Spaceman ending explained: what happened to jakub.

The ambiguous ending of Spaceman leaves Jakub on a personal high note after a cerebral, life-changing experience in the mysterious Chopra Cloud.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Spaceman.

  • Spaceman's ambiguous ending leaves Jakub's fate up in the air, with a touching reunion between him and Lenka written in the stars.
  • Despite mixed reviews, Adam Sandler shines in a dramatic performance, blending existential sci-fi with genuine emotional depth.
  • The film's ending explores themes of destiny and redemption, as Jakub transcends space and time to reconnect with a renewed love.

The ending of the new Netflix sci-fi adventure movie Spaceman is somewhat ambiguous, especially regarding the fate of Adam Sandler's Jakub protagonist. The unique and existential Spaceman was directed by Johan Renck , known for his exceptional work on Chernobyl (2019), Breaking Bad (2009–2011), The Walking Dead (2010), Vikings (2013), and Bloodline (2015). Despite Renck's impressive filmography, Spaceman has received mixed reviews from critics off the bat, earning a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 51% as of its streaming release date of March 1, 2024.

Spaceman stars Sandler in another notable dramatic performance seen in previous works such as Uncut Gems , Punch-Drunk Love , and Hustle . Sandler's Jakub receives the unfortunate news that his wife Lenka, played by Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan , wants to divorce him while he's halfway on an 8-month solo mission to outer space. Jakub is tasked with gathering samples of the mysterious yet mesmerizing Chopra Cloud that randomly became visible in the Earth's sky. During his trip, J akub's emotional distress worsens regarding his marital status, which is when a friendly extraterrestrial arachnid creature (voiced by Paul Dano) appears and helps to alleviate his loneliness.


6 Reasons Reviews For Adam Sandler's New Sci-Fi Space Movie Are Mixed

What happens in spaceman's ending.

Adam Sandler wears an astronaut suit in Spaceman

Spaceman's ending starts to unfold as Jakub finally makes it to the Chopra Cloud and is preparing to collect samples of the mysterious pink and purple cosmic particles. Commissioner Tuma (Isabella Rossellini) hosts an international communication broadcast that billions of people are likely watching, which plays pre-recorded footage of Jakub's scripted words before entering the Chopra Cloud. Just the first samples are being collected, Hanuš appears with small mites known as Gorompeds start crawling from within him and he leaves the ship. Jakub gets in his spacesuit and follows Hanuš out of the ship , using a Bomba cleaning detergent to try and decontaminate Hanuš to no avail.

Jakub floats inside the Chopra Cloud with Hanuš, who elaborates on the cloud that he calls "The Beginning" as Jakub appears to experience his entire past all at once. Jakub reflects on the night he met Lenka and begins to understand that they were destined to meet each other despite the improbability of that happening. Jakub finds a renewed love for his star-crossed lover as Hanuš says his journey "begins and ends here" before being consumed by Gorompeds and dissolving into space dust . Jakub is seen back on Earth in a forest with Rusalka in an apparent dream sequence, and Jakub and Lenka connect with each other from lightyears away.

Does Jakub Make It Back To Earth?

Adam Sandler holds onto a part of the shuttle in Spaceman

Jakub did not make it back to Earth onscreen in Spaceman , but he appears to have been rescued by astronauts on a Korean spaceship after making it through the Chropra Cloud. Jakub is able to call Lenka from the Korean ship, where he appears safe and eventually homeward bound . It's unclear whether the Korean ship by the end of Spaceman intends to drop Jakub back off at his ship or will bring Jakub back to Earth themselves, but they will certainly be visiting the Chopra Cloud to study it and gather samples for themselves. While it appears that Jakub and Lenka are back together in a brief scene, it's likely that it was just a dream sequence.

What Lenka's "Would I Still Kiss You Question" Means

Adam Sandler and Carey Mulligan nearly kiss in Spaceman

In Spaceman's final scene, Jakub asks Lenka if she would still kiss him again from the Korean ship, drawing a full circle moment back to the beginning of their relationship. After experiencing the Chopra Cloud and returning to "The Beginning", it appears that Jakub is asking for a second chance with Lenka that would take them back to the start. Lenka seems receptive to Jakub's inquiry, recalling the origin of their relationship and how great their first kiss was. Lenka's positive response indicates that when Jakub does return home, he will still have her as his wife and they will start a new beginning.

What Was The Rasulka Scene & How Did It Happen?

Carey Mulligan and Adam Sandler stand intimately close together in Spaceman

The brief Rasulka scene in which Jakub, dressed in a spacesuit, encounters Lenka dressed as a princess in the forest back on Earth, is reminiscent of how he views her at his core. Earlier in Spaceman , Jakub had told Hanuš that Lenka was like the fairylike water nymph to him who has the power to kill mortal men with a kiss. In the closing sequence, Jakub tells Lenka he wants a kiss, which Lenka explains will kill him, symbolically meaning his career as an astronaut which had put a massive wedge in their relationship. By Jakub saying he's good with Lenka's kiss killing him, he's effectively agreeing to give up his dream life of being an astronaut to completely focus on her and their family.

Why Hanus Dissolved In The Chopra Cloud

The spider creature talks to Adam Sandler in Spaceman

While it's not entirely clear whether Hanuš was a real alien entity or a figment of Jakub's imagination, his story about the Gorompeds added up and ultimately took his life in the thick of the Chopra Cloud. Hanuš had come to a better understanding of humanity through Jakub, which made him feel more fulfilled about his pace in the cosmos before the Gorompeds that invaded his country finally killed him . Interestingly, Hanuš dissolved into space dust and essentially became part of the Chopra Cloud, but Jakub's end hadn't come yet and he was rescued with a newfound appreciation for Lenka.

The Real Meaning Of Spaceman's Ending

Spaceman's ending darted through some major logistical considerations to arrive at the happy ending of Jakub and Lenka's reunion. Despite Jakub acting completely irresponsibly and unprofessionally during a crucial space exploration mission, Jakub only seems to care about getting home to Lenka and being a good husband and father. This is fitting with Jakub's development from a selfish career-chasing astronaut to a more sympathetic romantic partner . However, the final emotional punch of Spaceman's story is made at the expense of several plotholes and negligence of rationale.

The cerebral nature of Spaceman's ending makes for an out-of-this-world, nearly spiritual tone that is nicely built throughout the film through the soft, wise words of Hanuš. Although Hanuš is gone by the end of Spaceman , and his existence is never confirmed or denied , Jakub is undoubtedly a changed man and more than likely a disgraced astronaut. The specifics of the Chopra Cloud and its majestic glowing particles are not elaborated on further than Hanuš's philosophical waxings of the cloud representing the beginning and end of the universe. Lenka and Jakub seem to have a happy ending in Spaceman by returning to form as fated lovers.

Spaceman Poster Showing Adam Sandler Walking Through a Forest in an Astronaut Suit

Spaceman is a sci-fi drama starring Adam Sandler and directed by Chernobyl director Johan Renck. The film, based on the book Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař, follows Jakub Procházka who goes on a solo mission to space and encounters a mysterious creature as he begins to lose touch with reality.

  • International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

Wim Wenders, left, with Sebastião Salgado

The Salt of the Earth review – colourful portrait of visionary photographer Sebastião Salgado

This deeply considered documentary from Wim Wenders and the photographer’s son looks at the Brazilian artist behind monochrome images that transcend history itself

T he amazing monochrome images created by 71-year-old Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado are the subject of this deeply considered documentary study, co-directed by Wim Wenders and the photographer’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. The cinema screen is a good platform for work so passionately idealistic and, perhaps, grandiose. The pictures are the result of Salgado’s remarkable 40-year career as a photojournalist – although that word does not do justice to a vocation closer to artist, ethnographer and self-described “witness to the human condition”.

Salgado took stunning pictures in South America, Africa and central Europe, paying tribute to peoples who are dispossessed. He speaks to the camera here about his life and work, like a great big Buddha-like head looming out of the pictures’ glass frames. Wenders says that compassion fuels Salgado’s vision, humanity being the “salt of the earth”. I suspect there is also that Greeneian splinter of ice in his artist’s heart that allows him to capture unbearable images of human agony.

Salgado has been accused of fetishising and beautifying suffering and pain: I don’t agree, although Salgado is not asked why he takes only black-and-white photographs, and this is a flaw in the film – as it goes to the heart of the artistry-over-authenticity debate. Cinematographers Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Hugo Barbier occasionally show their own black-and-white images bleeding into colour; I would have liked to hear from them directly about how their work was influenced by the subject. Finally, it seems as if Salgado has gone beyond humanity in depicting the natural world: landscapes without people. His best work seems to transcend history itself.

  • Sebastião Salgado: my adventures at the ends of the Earth
  • The Salt of the Earth
  • Sebastião Salgado
  • Photography
  • Documentary films
  • Wim Wenders

Comments (…)

Most viewed.


Supported by

Movie Review

The Eyes of a Beholder of Hardship

  • Share full article

movie review salt of the earth

By A.O. Scott

  • Dec. 11, 2014

“The Salt of the Earth,” Wim Wenders’s new documentary about the life and work of the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado , elegantly inhabits a moral and aesthetic paradox. Mr. Salgado’s photographs illuminate some of the worst horrors of the modern world: starvation, war, poverty, displacement. They are also beautiful, dramatic visual artifacts, and their power has a double effect. We are drawn into the contemplation of terrible realities, but at the same time our attention turns to the person bearing witness.

That is not a fault, either in Mr. Salgado’s lifelong project or in Mr. Wenders’s consideration of it. It’s just a fact of their common vocation. The filmmaker brings his mellow humanism and globe-trotting curiosity into an appreciative, easygoing dialogue with the photographer’s single-minded vision. They are a well-matched pair. Though Mr. Wenders does not appear on camera, he is present as a narrator and a sensibility, recounting his early meetings with Mr. Salgado and his collaboration with the photographer’s son Juliano, who is the co-director of “The Salt of the Earth.”

The elder Mr. Salgado, for his part, occupies the screen with quiet charisma. Speaking in French and Portuguese — he left Brazil during the military dictatorship and lived for many years in Paris — he modestly tells the story of an adventurous life. Raised in a rural part of central Brazil, he was trained as an economist before turning to photography, a career change he undertook with the support of his wife, Lelia, a frustratingly peripheral figure in the film until its final section.

Leaving her and the young Juliano for months at a time, Mr. Salgado set out to document unexplored aspects of human life, often focusing on remote areas and vulnerable or exploited people. “The Salt of the Earth” begins with the contemplation of pictures taken in and around an enormous, open gold mine, a crowded, infernal place in which Mr. Salgado’s camera discovers humanity in its raw, desperate essence.

Those images were part of “Workers: Archaeology of the Industrial Age,” a collection published in 1993. Subsequent projects included “Migrations” (2000) and “Sahel: The End of the Road” (2004), whose images of famine and war in Africa are made more wrenching by the photographer’s calm, heartbroken narration of the circumstances in which they were taken.

To observe and capture on film the death of another person is a disturbing experience, and also an ethically complicated act. Susan Sontag’s 2003 book “Regarding the Pain of Others” explores the ways that photographs of atrocities can both awaken and dull the conscience, creating a sense of immediacy that is also, inevitably, a measure of the distance between the sufferer and the observer. “The Salt of the Earth,” a document of Mr. Wenders’s admiration for his subject, largely avoids such complications: a perfectly defensible choice but also something of a lost opportunity. “The Salt of the Earth” leaves no doubt about Mr. Salgado’s talent or decency, and the chance to spend time in his company is a reason for gratitude. And yet his pictures, precisely because they disclose harsh and unwelcome truths, deserve a harder, more robustly critical look.

Explore More in TV and Movies

Not sure what to watch next we can help..

The Criterion Collection’s catalog has become so synonymous with cinematic achievement that it has come to function as a kind of film Hall of Fame. Here is how it gained that status .

Onscreen, assisted reproductive technologies have become familiar narrative devices. Their meaning is double-edged , representing women’s empowerment, or their exploitation.

Not everyone needs a scary movie that goes to the darkest extremes. Here’s why milder horror films like “Imaginary” and “Lisa Frankenstein”  can still pack a punch.

In “The Regime,” HBO’s new absurdist limited series, Kate Winslet plays a neurotic central European dictator  making it up as she goes along.

If you are overwhelmed by the endless options, don’t despair — we put together the best offerings   on Netflix , Max , Disney+ , Amazon Prime  and Hulu  to make choosing your next binge a little easier.

Sign up for our Watching newsletter  to get recommendations on the best films and TV shows to stream and watch, delivered to your inbox.

Film Review: Salt of the Earth

Mark Murrmann

Mark Murrmann

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter

Salt of the Earth , a new Sony Pictures Classics doc narrated and codirected by Wim Wenders, is a somber retrospective of the prodigious photographer Sebastião Salgado rendered, fittingly, in black and white. The 71-year-old Brazilian gained his acclaim shooting war, manual labor ( Workers ), and mass displacement ( Migrations ). On screen, as he hopscotches from one calamity to the next, we can see his faith in humanity eroding. “We humans are terrible animals,” he proclaims at one point, later adding: “It’s an endless story of repression, a tale of madness.” This visually stunning film helps us understand why Salgado, like other photographers who focus on human misery, has sought respite in more heartening projects: His most recent, Genesis , documents Earth’s natural wonders.

movie review salt of the earth

Robert Frank’s Photos of America Still Feel As Poignant As They Did 60 Years Ago

movie review salt of the earth

The Dangerous, Harrowing Work of War Photographer Chris Hondros

movie review salt of the earth

These Beautiful “Place-Hacking” Photos Will Give You an Adrenaline Rush

Photographs by Bradley Garrett

movie review salt of the earth

Anti-Trans Bills Keep Citing the New York Times

Henry Carnell

We Recommend

Black and white tight frame of Donald Trump's pursed-lipped face.

It Can Happen Here

movie review salt of the earth

US Cities Could Be Capturing Billions of Gallons of Water Per Day

movie review salt of the earth

Walgreens and CVS Will Sell the Abortion Pill—and the Pill’s Investors Could Make Bank

Hannah Levintova

movie review salt of the earth

YouTube’s Austin Ambitions Aren’t Going Well. Just Ask These Workers.

Arianna Coghill

movie review salt of the earth

This Week’s Episode of Reveal: How to Catch a Corrupt Philly Cop

Jamilah King

New Yorkers hold vigil for non-binary student, Nex Benedict at Stonewall Inn on February 26th 2024

Nex Benedict’s Death Triggers Federal Investigation

movie review salt of the earth

Nikki Haley Joins GOP Colleagues in Suddenly Pivoting on IVF

Julianne McShane

movie review salt of the earth

Trump Says Gov. Abbott, Who Doesn’t Want to Be Vice President, Is “Absolutely” a Contender for Vice President

Sign up for our free newsletter.

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use , and to receive messages from Mother Jones and our partners.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones ' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Independent. In print. In your mailbox.

Inexpensive, too! Subscribe today and get a full year of Mother Jones for just $14.95.

Mother Jones Magazine Cover : January + February 2024

Bold. Brave. Beautiful.

Award-winning photojournalism. Stunning video. Fearless conversations.

Looking for news you can trust?

We noticed you have an ad blocker on..

Can you pitch in a few bucks to help fund Mother Jones' investigative journalism? We're a nonprofit (so it's tax-deductible), and reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget.

We noticed you have an ad blocker on. Can you pitch in a few bucks to help fund Mother Jones' investigative journalism?

Don't let an algorithm decide what news you see.

Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Home — Essay Samples — Entertainment — Movie Review — “Salt of the Earth”: Movie Review


"Salt of The Earth": Movie Review

  • Categories: Film Analysis Movie Review

About this sample


Words: 735 |

Published: Sep 12, 2023

Words: 735 | Pages: 2 | 4 min read

Table of contents

A glimpse into history, bringing realism to the forefront, a lasting legacy, the final takeaway.

Image of Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Let us write you an essay from scratch

  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours

Get high-quality help


Prof Ernest (PhD)

Verified writer

  • Expert in: Entertainment


+ 120 experts online

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy . We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

No need to pay just yet!

Related Essays

1 pages / 781 words

2 pages / 844 words

1 pages / 585 words

2 pages / 921 words

Remember! This is just a sample.

You can get your custom paper by one of our expert writers.

121 writers online

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled

Related Essays on Movie Review

“All power to ALL the people.” This motto is repeated throughout the latest “Spike Lee Joint.” BlacKkKlansman is the newest film by the director of acclaimed films like Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and Inside Man. The film [...]

Released in 2016, the "Before the Flood" documentary, presented by National Geographic and directed by Fisher Stevens, as well as produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, tells the very real tale of our current ecological [...]

The Matrix was a revolutionary movie that commented on technological reliance and used lighting, special effects and camera angles to add intrigue to the storyline. It tells of the dangers of technology and shows a worst-case [...]

Spotlight is directed by Tom McCarthy and stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Liev Schreiber. It’s the true story of the Boston news reporters who work for the Boston Globe who uncovered a very disturbing [...]

While the short film, 2081, has many common similarities with its adapted version of the short story, Harrison Bergeron, they differ from each other to the point where it can change our whole view on who Harrison Bergeron [...]

‘What’s interesting to me is how the story keeps changing, and the reality of what’s happening keeps changing, and how, up until the very final scene, it’s all about how the truth is perceived.’ – Martin Scorsese, director of [...]

Related Topics

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement . We will occasionally send you account related emails.

Where do you want us to send this sample?

By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.

Be careful. This essay is not unique

This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

Download this Sample

Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts

Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.

Please check your inbox.

We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!

Get Your Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

We use cookies to personalyze your web-site experience. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy .

  • Instructions Followed To The Letter
  • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
  • Unique And Plagiarism Free

movie review salt of the earth

agmtw logo

The Salt of the Earth (2014)

The Very Best

watch later

not interested / hide

Play Trailer




Read our dedicated guide on how to watch The Salt of the Earth (2014)

movie review salt of the earth

100 Best Movies on Curzon in the UK

movie review salt of the earth

50 Informative Documentaries to Watch Now

movie review salt of the earth

3 Streaming Bundles With Peacock

6 Best Netflix Bundles in 2024

movie review salt of the earth

DirecTV Stream Free Trial: How To Get DirecTV Stream Free Trial in 2024

How To Watch DirecTV Stream in Canada

Jamie Rutherford

What it's about, add a comment, more like this in, instructive.

movie review salt of the earth

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time (2021)

A loving tribute to an American great, as well as a chronicle of a beautiful friendship

movie review salt of the earth

The Guilty (2018)

A minimalist, razor-sharp thriller that will have you gasping for air.

movie review salt of the earth

Leave the World Behind (2023)

Shyamalan meets Black Mirror in this hugely entertaining, visually inventive apocalyptic thriller with a killer ending

movie review salt of the earth

Hail Satan? (2019)

Forget everything you think you know about the Satanic Temple

movie review salt of the earth

I Lost My Body (2019)

The Oscar-nominated unconventional animation

movie review salt of the earth

Einstein and the Bomb (2024)

A dramatized depiction of Einstein’s own words against Nazism

movie review salt of the earth

Wind River (2017)

Sicario's screenwriter directs this story of murder in an Indigenous reserve

movie review salt of the earth

Cold War (2018)

A quiet Polish masterpiece with ravishing music and dazzling visuals

movie review salt of the earth

Incendies (2011)

Part melodrama, part war thriller, Incendies is gorgeous and heartbreaking from the first scene

movie review salt of the earth

The Farewell (2019)

Awkwafina shines in this complex culture clash comedy.

Curated by humans, not algorithms.

© 2024 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.

  • Become a Critical Movie Critic
  • Movie Review Archives

The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: The Salt of the Earth (2014)

  • Howard Schumann
  • Movie Reviews
  • No responses
  • --> April 16, 2015

“Suffering is what was born. Ignorance made me forlorn. Tearful truths I cannot scorn” — Allan Ginsberg

Co-directed with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Wim Wenders’ (“ Pina ”) The Salt of the Earth chronicles Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado’s essays shot over a period of thirty years in one hundred different countries. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 2014 and one of the five Oscar-nominated films for Best Documentary, the film documents the reality of war, poverty, famine, and deforestation in human terms, captured in indelible photos by a man who has been called the most important photographer of the 21st century. Salgado’s work is without exploitation of human misery, only a respect for the humanity of those caught in the middle of tragic circumstances.

Born in Brazil in Aimorés in the State of Minas Gerais, Salgado received a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Sâo Paulo but left his native country for France in 1969 after a coup installed a military dictatorship. In France, he intended to pursue a career in economics but his life was changed when his wife Leila recognized his unique talent and urged him to invest in photographic equipment. While the film does not explore Salgado’s relationship with his wife and two children, it does touch on their feelings when their second son, a special needs child was born. It also makes clear that Juliano, Sebastião’s oldest son who later joined him on a ten-year project, grew up mostly without the presence of his father in the home.

Salgado’s career began in 1973 in Niger, Africa, but the film opens with a collage of photos taken at the Serra Pelada mine in Brazil in the 1980s as part of his “Workers” series. Photographed entirely in black and white, the images show 50,000 men laboring at an enormous mining pit, a scene he describes with deep emotion. Commenting on the photos as they are projected onto a mirror that allows us to see both the artist and his art, Sebastião is an articulate guide to the events. The vast numbers of workers were not slaves, he says, but were “slaves to the cause of getting rich.” Observing the scene, he shared that “every hair on my body stood on edge,” and he felt as if he “had traveled to the dawn of time.”

Salgado’s first major series was called “The Other Americas.” Shot from 1977 to 1984, the project took him to Latin and South America in countries such as Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador (not Brazil). With a vivid memory for details and a natural ability as a storyteller, Salgado talks about the Tarahumara, a Native American people of northwestern Mexico renowned for their long-distance running ability whose existence is now threatened by drug trafficking. He also recollects how the Saraguros, an indigenous people living in the southern highlands of Ecuador, thought that he was an ambassador sent from God to make sure they were living upright lives.

Working with the humanitarian organization “Doctors Without Borders,” the film chronicles how Sebastião undertook a fifteen-month project of recording the drought-stricken Sahel region of Africa in the countries of Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, and Sudan, where approximately one million people died from malnutrition and related causes. After witnessing the disaster in the Sahel, he turned his camera to the burning oil wells of Iraq, fires set by Saddam Hussein at the end of the Gulf War. After he witnessed the genocide in Rwanda during the 90s, Salgado reached an impasse in his life. “My soul was sick,” he recalls. “I no longer believed in anything, in any salvation for the human species.”

The Salt of the Earth , however, is not a film of despair but one of redemption. When Salgado returned to the land in Brazil where he grew up, the task of reclaiming the land from deforestation and drought seemed overwhelming but became the catalyst for his personal transformation. Sebastião and Leila created the Instituto Terra , dedicated to replanting over one million trees to restore the balance of nature in the Atlantic Forest. The success of the project allowed him to return to photography and begin his final series entitled “Genesis” in which he documented arctic and desert landscapes, tropical rainforests, marine and other wildlife, and communities still living according to ancient traditions.

While Salgado’s words are inspiring, the images conveyed by the photographs are what gives the film its astonishing power. His photos are a stinging protest of the disparity between the haves and the have-nots all over the world. “The planet remains divided,” he said. “The first world is in a crisis of excess, the third world in a crisis of need.” The magnificent body of his work underlines this sad reality.

Tagged: death , photograph , reporter , travel

The Critical Movie Critics

I am a retired father of two living with my wife in Vancouver, B.C. who has had a lifelong interest in the arts.

Movie Review: Hit the Road (2021) Movie Review: Happening (2021) Movie Review: Playground (2021) Movie Review: The Power of the Dog (2021) Movie Review: After Yang (2021) Movie Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021) Movie Review: The Worst Person in the World (2021)

'Movie Review: The Salt of the Earth (2014)' has no comments

Privacy Policy | About Us

 |  Log in

  • Cast & crew
  • User reviews

The Salt of the Earth

Metacritic reviews

The salt of the earth.

  • 100 New York Post Sara Stewart New York Post Sara Stewart Many of the images — and Salgado’s accounts of taking them — are as soul-shattering as they are breathtaking.
  • 91 The Playlist Rodrigo Perez The Playlist Rodrigo Perez The Salt of The Earth is a mesmeric and unforgettable look at the world and it sufferings through the eyes of a remarkably insightful and honorable artist.
  • 91 Entertainment Weekly Chris Nashawaty Entertainment Weekly Chris Nashawaty With this heartbreaking yet hopeful new documentary about his life’s work, Salgado shares the stories behind these split-second black-and-white moments, giving them even more dimension.
  • 90 Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan The Salt of the Earth deals with two kinds of journeys the photographer made. The outward one may have literally taken him to the furthest corners of the Earth and resulted in the stunning images the film features, but it is the inward journey that paralleled it that completely holds our attention.
  • 90 Variety Jay Weissberg Variety Jay Weissberg Wim Wenders’ mastery of the documentary form is again on display in The Salt of the Earth.
  • 90 Village Voice Stephanie Zacharek Village Voice Stephanie Zacharek The movie Wenders and Juliano have made is a tribute that feels both grand and modest in scale: Just as Salgado's photographs do, it extends the notion of friends and family to include every citizen of the world.
  • 80 The Guardian Andrew Pulver The Guardian Andrew Pulver The co-operation between Wenders and Salgado Jr works well, mixing the former's heavyweight presence as both interviewer and storyteller, and the latter's ability to harvest intimate, deep-buried subtleties that may otherwise not have seen the light of day. Together they have made a moving tribute to a peerless talent.
  • 80 The Hollywood Reporter Boyd van Hoeij The Hollywood Reporter Boyd van Hoeij The Salt of the Earth doesn’t reveal so much as gracefully confirm that the empathy and humanism that make Salgado’s photojournalistic work so special are also a part of the artist’s outlook on life.
  • 75 Slant Magazine Clayton Dillard Slant Magazine Clayton Dillard It evolves into an intimate reverie on family and aesthetics, while remaining sporadically attuned to the reflexive and ethical dimensions of ethnographic discovery.
  • 60 The New York Times A.O. Scott The New York Times A.O. Scott The Salt of the Earth leaves no doubt about Mr. Salgado’s talent or decency, and the chance to spend time in his company is a reason for gratitude. And yet his pictures, precisely because they disclose harsh and unwelcome truths, deserve a harder, more robustly critical look.
  • See all 29 reviews on
  • See all external reviews for The Salt of the Earth

More from this title

More to explore.

Production art

Recently viewed


This 'Lord of the Rings' Character Deserved to Be In the Movies — No, It's Not Bombadil

  • Glorfindel was cut from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Ring films, even though he played a crucial role in the original books.
  • Glorfindel is one of Middle-earth's greatest Elven warriors, with significant contributions in Tolkien's broader legendarium.
  • Aragorn and Arwen's love story took precedence in the film trilogy over Glorfindel, impacting the adaptation of the original material.

For decades, J.R.R. Tolkien 's The Lord of the Rings has been known as one of the most important works of fantasy literature, so when director Peter Jackson decided to bring the high fantasy epic to life on the big screen, there were likely going to be some changes. Because of how extensive and elaborate Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium became, there was no way that Jackson could fit every scene or every character into the film trilogy . Of course, Tom Bombadill is the character most think about when we consider who got the axe from Peter Jackson, but there's another important figure in The Lord of the Rings who deserved to have made it to the big screen: Glorfindel.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.

Release Date December 19, 2001

Director Peter Jackson

Cast Alan Howard, Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Sean Bean, Andy Serkis, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom

Rating PG-13

Runtime 178 minutes

Genres Drama, Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Glorfindel Had an Important Role in 'The Lord of the Rings'

There are plenty of characters who didn't make it into Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies. Tom Bombadill and his wife Goldberry, Prince Imrahil, Quickbeam, and Ghân-buri-Ghân are among the most obvious, but they're certainly not the only ones who were cut out. Glorfindel, too, got the shaft in more than one J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation, starting with Ralph Bakshi 's 1978 animated adaption , where his lines and role were replaced largely by Legolas. In Jackson's live-action trilogy, Glorfindel was removed from the narrative once again, with Liv Tyler 's Arwen taking over some of his most important duties in The Fellowship of the Ring , including rescuing Elijah Wood 's Frodo Baggins.

In the original novel, Glorfindel is the one who steps in to save Frodo from the Black Riders on their tail. Sometime after the hobbit ring bearer is stabbed at Weathertop, Glorfindel arrives to meet with Aragorn and the four hobbits, having been sent by Elrond to bring them to Rivendell. He promptly puts Frodo on his horse, Asfaloth, and leads the party on their journey, but only until the Ringwraiths come. Unlike the films, which portray Arwen's encounter with the Nazgûl as nothing more than a glorified chase sequence, The Fellowship of the Ring novel details Frodo's flight from the Black Riders as something of a temptation for the hobbit, one he is forced to overcome on his own. After crossing the Ford of Bruinen, Elrond's enchanted waters overtake the Nazgûl, and Glorfindel and Aragorn stand guard on the other side. In fact, Glorfindel's power frightens the Ringwraiths, who choose not to mess with him.

Upon arriving in Rivendell and forming the Council of Elrond, the fate of the One Ring is decided. Glorfindel––who is highly honored among the Council––suggests taking it to Tom Bombadil, but that's quickly turned down when it's suggested that Bombadil would absentmindedly misplace it. Eventually, they decide it must be destroyed, and a secret Fellowship should be formed to do so. In the movie, this is a pretty quick and easy process, but in the novel, Tolkien draws it out a bit longer, with Glorfindel being at first considered before Merry and Pippin volunteer to fill the last remaining spots. Gandalf even explains that Glorfindel couldn't go because of the obvious nature of his power and the need for secrecy in their mission. Eventually, the Elf-lord returns in The Return of the King for the marriage of Aragorn and Arwen, which is the last we hear of him in Middle-earth.

Glorfindel Is One of Middle-Earth's Greatest Elven Warriors

In J.R.R. Tolkien's greater legendarium, Glorfindel is described as a magnificent Elf-lord who is one of the mightiest warriors in Middle-earth. "Glorfindel was tall and straight; his hair was of shining gold, his face fair and young and fearless and full of joy; his eyes were bright and clean, and his voice like music; on his brow set wisdom, and in his hand was strength," is how he's described in the "Many Meetings" chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring . A Firstborn of the Elves, he has existed since as far back as the First Age, during the Years of the Trees in Valinor. While Glorfindel did not participate in the infamous Kinslaying at Alqualondë, he followed his Ñoldor brethren into exile. The Silmarillion details more of Glorfindel's exploits, such as his part in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, but his most famous exploits occur during the Fall of Gondolin.

According to Tolkien's writings, Glorfindel fought valiantly for his people when Morgoth (the first Dark Lord of Middle-earth) attacked Gondolin. Having defended the city as best he could, he and his fellow warriors were ambushed by orcs and a fire-drake (a dragon), which led to their retreat. Though his king was slain, Glorfindel helped as many Gondolindrim escape as he could, but all that changed when a Balrog showed up . We don't know for sure which Balrog it was (perhaps it was one of the Lords of the Balrogs, possibly Lungorthin), but the Elf-lord battled the fire demon in a way that would make Gandalf jealous. Victorious over the creature, he plunged his sword into its belly, but the demon grabbed Glorfindel by the hair and dragged him off a cliff with him. Glorfindel died there, but his body was later retrieved by Thorondor, King of the Eagles , and he was buried by his kin.

Though Glorfindel's spirit left Middle-earth, it would eventually return at the end of the Second Age. Manwë, the King of the Valar, commissioned the Elf-lord to return centuries later, reembodied as an emissary for the spiritual beings (with greater power to boot). We don't know all that Glorfindel did after he was returned to Middle-earth, though we do know that he once fought the Witch-king of Angmar and afterward prophesied that the Black Rider wouldn't be defeated by a man. Yes, this is how Éowyn and Merry were able to kill the Witch-king a thousand years later during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, making his contribution to Middle-earth invaluable. Sadly, any contributions he made to The Lord of the Rings were removed by Peter Jackson and company .

The Aragorn and Arwen Love Story Took Precedence in the Film Trilogy

As mentioned earlier, Arwen takes over Glorfindel's role in The Fellowship of the Ring. While she's not a part of the Council of Elrond like the Elf-lord is in the books, his rescue of Frodo and part in getting Aragorn and the hobbits to Rivendell safely is scrubbed in favor of the future Queen of Gondor (who still rides the same horse, Asfaloth). So what gives? Well, aside from wanting to give more development to Arwen, who doesn't have a major role in the books, Peter Jackson and company likely wanted to give Viggo Mortensen 's Aragorn more of an emotional anchor. Given that J.R.R. Tolkien himself better establishes Aragorn and Arwen's love story in the Appendix to The Return of the King , the screenwriters thought it would make more sense to cut Glorfindel in favor of more between these two love birds.

"Arwen is a vital part of Aragorn's story," noted co-screenwriter Phillipa Boyens back in 2002 (via Daily News ). "We tried many permutations of how to bring her into it more, drawing a lot on Lúthien and Beren [the Elf and mortal man whose tragic love is a prototype for that of Aragorn and Arwen]." No doubt, Glorfindel only really shows up in The Fellowship of the Ring , returning only via a cameo in Return of the King for Aragorn and Arwen's wedding. With that in mind, it's obvious why the filmmakers thought they could just cut one of the characters out. Admittedly, the change works well within the context of the film, and anyone watching who hasn't read the books likely won't think twice about it. But for fans of Tolkien's original material, it's a major blow.

Glorfindel represents the broadness of Tolkien's legendarium. In many ways, the Elf-lord, though not a major player in the three novels, plays an important role in helping comprehend how big Middle-earth actually is. Along with the other cut characters, Glorfindel gives perspective to Frodo and the other hobbits and, in turn, the audience with his raw and awesome power. Because he's so old and because of his incredible life experience, Glorfindel's battle with the Balrog is almost a prototype for what would become of Gandalf the Grey. Additionally, it's Glorfindel's prophecy that gives power to the Witch-king's defeat, and it's he who helps inspire Frodo to press on and overcome the Ringwraiths at Rivendell. The change might make sense for the film, but it doesn't undercut how important this Elf-lord really is to Tolkien's world.

Did Glorfindel Appear in 'The Lord of the Rings' Trilogy?

Strangely, some believe that Glorfindel actually does appear in Peter Jackson's trilogy after all. Because Jackson paid homage to portions from the book that were cut, like the "Scouring of the Shire," it seems that he may have done it again with Glorfindel, a beloved character from the original story. At the end of The Return of the King , Aragorn and Arwen are wed in a dual wedding/coronation following Sauron's defeat. Behind a smiling Elrond is an Elf with golden hair that flows down to his sides. He's a strong-looking figure with features that generally seem to match what we know of the Elf-lord from the books. Many believe this Elf extra is actually Glorfindel himself, though there might be another option.

At another point during this scene, we see a glimpse of another Elf standing before a Gondorian flag. While he doesn't exactly scream "Glorfindel," this extra is thrown in as a possibility due to Lord of the Rings -inspired trading cards, of all things. There are two different Glorfindel cards in the official The Lord of the Rings: Trading Card Game , which pulls from the Peter Jackson films primarily when portraying the fantasy characters. For both of Glorfindel's cards, the same Elf extra appears, once in a screenshot directly from the film , and another photo of the character in the woods (not unlike what might have been had the character appeared in the films). While the film's credits don't confirm that anyone in particular was cast as Glorfindel specifically, it appears that the character likely exists within Peter Jackson's interpretation of Middle-earth after all. It's just too bad he never got to meet Frodo Baggins.

The Lord of the Rings is streaming on Max in the U.S.

Watch on Max

This 'Lord of the Rings' Character Deserved to Be In the Movies — No, It's Not Bombadil

Log in or sign up for Rotten Tomatoes

Trouble logging in?

By continuing, you agree to the Privacy Policy and the Terms and Policies , and to receive email from the Fandango Media Brands .

By creating an account, you agree to the Privacy Policy and the Terms and Policies , and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and to receive email from the Fandango Media Brands .

By creating an account, you agree to the Privacy Policy and the Terms and Policies , and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes.

Email not verified

Let's keep in touch.

Rotten Tomatoes Newsletter

Sign up for the Rotten Tomatoes newsletter to get weekly updates on:

  • Upcoming Movies and TV shows
  • Trivia & Rotten Tomatoes Podcast
  • Media News + More

By clicking "Sign Me Up," you are agreeing to receive occasional emails and communications from Fandango Media (Fandango, Vudu, and Rotten Tomatoes) and consenting to Fandango's Privacy Policy and Terms and Policies . Please allow 10 business days for your account to reflect your preferences.

OK, got it!

Movies / TV

No results found.

  • What's the Tomatometer®?
  • Login/signup

movie review salt of the earth

Movies in theaters

  • Opening this week
  • Top box office
  • Coming soon to theaters
  • Certified fresh movies

Movies at home

  • Netflix streaming
  • Amazon prime
  • Most popular streaming movies
  • What to Watch New

Certified fresh picks

  • Dune: Part Two Link to Dune: Part Two
  • Stopmotion Link to Stopmotion
  • Orion and the Dark Link to Orion and the Dark

New TV Tonight

  • The Regime: Season 1
  • The Gentlemen: Season 1
  • The Reluctant Traveler With Eugene Levy: Season 2
  • Queens: Season 1
  • Blown Away: Season 4
  • Animal Control: Season 2
  • The Cleaning Lady: Season 3
  • Alert: Missing Persons Unit: Season 2
  • Hot Wheels: Let's Race: Season 1

Most Popular TV on RT

  • Shōgun: Season 1
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Season 1
  • American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders: Season 1
  • Constellation: Season 1
  • The Tourist: Season 2
  • One Day: Season 1
  • Elsbeth: Season 1
  • Halo: Season 2
  • House of Ninjas: Season 1
  • Best TV Shows
  • Most Popular TV
  • TV & Streaming News
  • Prime Video

Certified fresh pick

  • The Tourist: Season 2 Link to The Tourist: Season 2
  • All-Time Lists
  • Binge Guide
  • Comics on TV
  • Five Favorite Films
  • Video Interviews
  • Weekend Box Office
  • Weekly Ketchup
  • What to Watch

All A24 Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

Best Women-Directed Movies of the 21st Century

Women’s History

Black Heritage

10 Essential Movies About Women in Sports

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire : Release Date, Trailer, Cast & More

  • Trending on RT
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Play Movie Trivia
  • Dune: Part Two

The Salt of the Earth Reviews

movie review salt of the earth

... Beautiful and carefully presented (a la National Geographic), but also solemn and -- as the artist's oeuvre -- a bit exploitative. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Oct 17, 2023

Wenders' aesthetic in The Salt of Earth is inherent to Salgado's characteristic style, his black-and-white universe that's predominately black as an authentic contrast to the whites. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Nov 30, 2022

movie review salt of the earth

Co-directors Win Wenders' and Salgado's son Juliano's documentary chronicling the life of the photographer is so full of jaw-dropping moments that getting up close and personal with a whale merits only a passing mention.

Full Review | Jan 9, 2020

This documentary memoir of legendary Brazilian photographer Juliano Ribeiro Salgado offers extreme visions of beauty and horror in unlikely co-existence, though both are more graphic.

Full Review | Aug 7, 2019

movie review salt of the earth

Salgado documents human existence with remarkable sensitivity and profound insight into the mysteries of life, and so too does Wenders.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4 | Aug 7, 2019

A genuine must-see for anyone who wants a studious, moving, sometimes horrifying and ultimately inspirational insight into what makes the world tick. Unmissable.

Full Review | May 7, 2019

movie review salt of the earth

The Salt of the Earth is a glowing tribute to a committed and admirable artist. Wenders makes no attempt to critique or challenge his subject, and is content to let Salgado and his camera speak for themselves. And speak they do.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Apr 5, 2019

movie review salt of the earth

What is this, an inspirational poster?

Full Review | Aug 31, 2018

Wenders doesn't miss the opportunity to announce, via a closing title, that "The destruction of nature can be reversed". Human nature, The Salt of the Earth suggests, could also use a rethink.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 22, 2017

It is often not an easy movie to watch.

Full Review | Oct 12, 2017

movie review salt of the earth

It's hard not to wonder if [Sebastião Salgado] ever felt guilty that he had so much when they had so little, or maybe he thinks of himself more as an altruist than an artist, since he's helped to share their plight with the world.

Full Review | Aug 21, 2017

Overall, it's a good introduction to the work of a man who's been doing important, deeply moving work for decades.

Full Review | Jun 23, 2017

A fine, educational piece of documentary here, and the most beautiful images you'll see all season-with zero computer enhancement.

Full Review | Jul 11, 2016

Disheartening and uncomfortable at times, The Salt of the Earth forces its audience to confront images of a brutal, sometimes forgotten past, deconstructing any notion of an idealized, romantic history.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | May 12, 2016

Wim Wenders came graceful once again achieving a splendid film. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | May 6, 2016

A film that deconstructs the vision of an artist shocked by the horrors of humanity and yet finds beauty in all of it. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | May 5, 2016

The Salt Of The Earth is a fairly conventional biography made somewhat more intimate by a wealth of stills and home-movie footage. But that formal simplicity is merely a way of ensuring its points land clearly and without interference.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Dec 18, 2015

Salt of the Earth is a self-serving and very family-sanctioned project, though not quite a chore to watch.

Full Review | Nov 12, 2015

movie review salt of the earth

The Salt of the Earth should be required viewing for anyone with a serious interest in photography, and it will move those without one.

Full Review | Nov 5, 2015

Wenders showcases his work while giving him a platform to express his philosophical and political views. The doc benefits from a subtly affecting use of music.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Jul 23, 2015

an image, when javascript is unavailable

The Definitive Voice of Entertainment News

Subscribe for full access to The Hollywood Reporter

site categories

‘avatar: the last airbender’ review: netflix’s live-action remake is a major letdown.

The streamer's take on the beloved animated series centers on a young boy tasked with saving the world by mastering all four elements: earth, air, water and fire.

By Angie Han

Television Critic

  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Flipboard
  • Share this article on Email
  • Show additional share options
  • Share this article on Linkedin
  • Share this article on Pinit
  • Share this article on Reddit
  • Share this article on Tumblr
  • Share this article on Whatsapp
  • Share this article on Print
  • Share this article on Comment

Daniel Dae Kim as Ozai in season 1 of Avatar The Last Airbender

Several times in Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender , Aang (Gordon Cormier), the 12-year-old chosen-one hero, calls for guidance from the spirits of his predecessors. And they oblige, appearing before him in a glowing blue aura to share their experiences or offer advice. But they remind him as well that each Avatar is different — that the role evolves with the needs of the times or the personality of the individual inhabiting it, that it’s on Aang now to figure out for himself what it means for him.

Related Stories

Bending the elements: how 'avatar' vfx team brought aang, koizilla and animated world to life for netflix's 'the last airbender', 'avatar: the last airbender' stars on bringing animated characters to live action: "we're weren't doing a caricature", avatar: the last airbender.

Of course, by the logic of entertainment franchises, leaving well enough alone was probably never an option. So creator Albert Kim dusts off the premise that devotees of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s cartoon can surely recite by heart: “Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them. But when the world needed him most, he vanished.” Where Avatar 1.0 started out as a pleasant half-hour meander, though — having goofball Aang awaken from his century of accidental hibernation to befriend Water Tribe siblings Katara and Sokka, and only gradually building to harder conversations about peace, violence and conflict — this Avatar throws us right into the deep end. The opening minutes are filled with scenes of soldiers, spies, harrowing cruelty.

But Avatar ‘s most fundamental issues come down to clunky writing and correspondingly awkward performances. This is a script that signals Aang’s ambivalence about his destiny by having him simply monologue it: “I know who I am. I like to play airball and eat banana cakes and goof off with my friends. That’s who I am. Not someone who can stop the Fire Nation. Not someone who can stop a war.” As if those words aren’t unnatural enough, they’re directed to a CG sky bison so inert it might as well be a tennis ball. When the lead trio make their way around the world, we’re told rather than shown that Aang is good with people, that he and Sokka and Katara are like family now, that the return of the Avatar has restored some vague sense of “hope” that disappeared when he did. ( Avatar does not seem to have considered the possibility that in the absence of their savior, society might have found other sources of inspiration or purpose to rally around.)

The brightest elements of this universe mostly cluster around the Fire Nation, and not just because their flames are inherently more cinematic than the earthbenders’ floating rocks or the airbenders’ gusts of wind. (Whatever the discipline, few of the fight scenes are anything worth writing home about.) Aang might be the one referenced in the title, but Avatar ‘s ideas and intentions are best exemplified in antagonist Zuko, a teenage prince with daddy issues that would make Kendall Roy wince with sympathy. Radiating rage and pain from every pore, actor Dallas Liu stays faithful to the character originated by Dante Basco while simultaneously embodying Zuko so fully that it seems the role has always been his. With help from more seasoned performers like Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Ken Leung and Daniel Dae Kim, Zuko’s redemption arc, rushed though it is, emerges as the only truly compelling through line of the show.

THR Newsletters

Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day

More from The Hollywood Reporter

Sydney sweeney breaks down her “five-point plan” to break into acting in ‘snl’ monologue, ‘sex and the city’ lands premiere date on netflix, lily gladstone says her “dream” is to host ‘saturday night live’ one day, ‘brothers sun’ star justin chien reacts to series cancellation: “take some time to digest this news”, jesse tyler ferguson explains how sag awards ‘modern family’ reunion came together, meryl streep says nerves nearly derailed ‘only murders in the building’ songs: “really bad in the beginning”.



  1. Salt Of The Earth (DVD 1954)

    movie review salt of the earth

  2. Salt of the Earth

    movie review salt of the earth

  3. Movie Review: The Salt of the Earth (2014)

    movie review salt of the earth

  4. The Salt of the Earth (2014)

    movie review salt of the earth

  5. The Salt of the Earth

    movie review salt of the earth

  6. Salt (2010) movie poster

    movie review salt of the earth


  1. The Salt of the Earth movie review (2015)

    Although they do not fatally damage the film as a whole, their absence does leave a bit of a hole at the center of the proceedings that cannot be denied. For the most part, however, "The Salt of the Earth" is a visually stunning and oftentimes affecting tribute to one artist from another. A moderately insightful critic, full-on Swiftie and all ...

  2. Salt of the Earth : The Movie Hollywood Could Not Stop

    It required a great deal of optimism to make a left-leaning movie like Salt of the Earth in the early 1950s, but director Herbert Biberman was, by many accounts, a great optimist. ... Salt of the Earth premiered at the Grande Theater on March 14, 1954, to mostly positive reviews.

  3. Salt of the Earth

    Salt of the Earth is a good, highly dramatic and emotion-charged piece of work that tells its story straight. It is, however, a propaganda picture which belongs in union halls rather than theatres.

  4. The Salt of the Earth

    May 22, 2015. While exploring themes of death and rebirth, "The Salt of the Earth" is specifically a powerful documentary about the life, times and work of renowned photographer Sebastiao Selgado ...

  5. Salt of the Earth

    When an injunction stops the men from protesting, however, the gender roles are reversed, and women find themselves on the picket lines while the men stay at home. Genre: Drama. Original Language ...

  6. Movie Review: The Salt of the Earth Is a Look at Two Masters ...

    The film is steeped in melancholy. Salgado has had success, fame, and money, but he has also spent much of his life among refugees, war victims, and slaves, and he seems to suffer from something ...

  7. Adam Sandler gets serious in sci-fi flick Spaceman

    The inspiration for Johan Renck's new film Spaceman is more down-to-earth than one might expect.. Although the sci-fi flick revolves around a Czech astronaut venturing into mysterious purple space ...

  8. Salt of the Earth

    It is only through the solidarity of the workers, and importantly the indomitable resolve of their wives, mothers and daughters, that they eventually triumph. Drama. History. Directed By: Herbert J. Biberman. Written By: Michael Wilson. Salt of the Earth. Metascore Generally Favorable Based on 7 Critic Reviews. 74.

  9. 'The Salt of the Earth' captures images of beauty, brutality

    A movie review of "The Salt of the Earth": Wim Wenders co-directed this Oscar-nominated tribute to the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.

  10. Spaceman Ending Explained: What Happened To Jakub?

    The ending of the new Netflix sci-fi adventure movie Spaceman is somewhat ambiguous, especially regarding the fate of Adam Sandler's Jakub protagonist. The unique and existential Spaceman was directed by Johan Renck, known for his exceptional work on Chernobyl (2019), Breaking Bad (2009-2011), The Walking Dead (2010), Vikings (2013), and Bloodline (2015).

  11. The Salt of the Earth review

    T he amazing monochrome images created by 71-year-old Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado are the subject of this deeply considered documentary study, co-directed by Wim Wenders and the ...

  12. THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; ' Salt of the Earth' Opens at the Grande

    SALT OF THE EARTH, screen play by Michael Wilson; directed by Herbert J. Blberman; produced by Paul Jarrico. Presented by the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers and the ...

  13. Wim Wenders on Sebastião Salgado in 'The Salt of the Earth'

    Dec. 11, 2014. "The Salt of the Earth," Wim Wenders's new documentary about the life and work of the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, elegantly inhabits a moral and aesthetic ...

  14. Film Review: Salt of the Earth

    Salt of the Earth, a new Sony Pictures Classics doc narrated and codirected by Wim Wenders, is a somber retrospective of the prodigious photographer Sebastião Salgado rendered, fittingly, in ...

  15. Salt of the Earth (1954 film)

    The full film. Salt of the Earth is a 1954 American drama film written by Michael Wilson, directed by Herbert J. Biberman, and produced by Paul Jarrico.All had been blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment due to their alleged involvement in communist politics.. The drama film is one of the first pictures to advance the feminist social and political point of view.

  16. "Salt of The Earth": Movie Review

    Salt of the Earth, directed by Herbert J. Biberman and released in 1954, is a remarkable film that stands as a testament to the power of cinema to address pressing social issues.

  17. The Salt of the Earth (2014)

    queue. During the last forty years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed the major events of our recent history: international conflicts, starvations and exodus…. He is now embarking on the discovery of pristine territories, of the wild ...

  18. The Salt of the Earth

    For the last 40 years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed some of the major events of our recent history; international conflicts, starvation and exodus. He is now embarking on the discovery of pristine territories, of wild fauna and flora, and of grandiose landscapes as part of a huge ...

  19. Salt of the Earth

    Rotten Tomatoes, home of the Tomatometer, is the most trusted measurement of quality for Movies & TV. The definitive site for Reviews, Trailers, Showtimes, and Tickets

  20. Salt of the Earth (1954)

    10/10. More Than Just A Blacklisted Film. Dr.Mike 23 January 2000. Salt Of The Earth is best known as a blacklisted film made by many of the artists whose lives were destroyed by HUAC and the complicity of the film industry. While the film's very exsistance is a tribute to the determination of the artists to do the right thing and not be ...

  21. Movie Review: The Salt of the Earth (2014)

    After he witnessed the genocide in Rwanda during the 90s, Salgado reached an impasse in his life. "My soul was sick," he recalls. "I no longer believed in anything, in any salvation for the human species.". The Salt of the Earth, however, is not a film of despair but one of redemption. When Salgado returned to the land in Brazil where ...

  22. The Salt of the Earth (2014 film)

    The Salt of the Earth (also released under the French title Le sel de la terre) is a 2014 internationally co-produced biographical documentary film directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. It portrays the works of Salgado's father, the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado.. The film was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival ...

  23. The Salt of the Earth (2014)

    The Salt of the Earth: Directed by Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Wim Wenders. With Sebastião Salgado, Wim Wenders, Lélia Wanick Salgado, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. The life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, who has spent forty years documenting societies in hidden corners of the world.

  24. 'Horizon' Trailer: Kevin Costner Breaks Silence on Western Epic

    Kevin Costner has released the first full trailer for Horizon: An American Saga, his wildly ambitious, four-part post-Civil War Western epic that helped lure the actor away from his other Western ...

  25. The Salt of the Earth (2014)

    90. Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan. The Salt of the Earth deals with two kinds of journeys the photographer made. The outward one may have literally taken him to the furthest corners of the Earth and resulted in the stunning images the film features, but it is the inward journey that paralleled it that completely holds our attention. 90.

  26. This 'Lord of the Rings' Character Deserved to Be In the Movies

    Glorfindel was cut from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Ring films, even though he played a crucial role in the original books.; Glorfindel is one of Middle-earth's greatest Elven warriors, with ...

  27. The Salt of the Earth

    Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Oct 17, 2023. En Filme Staff En Filme. Wenders' aesthetic in The Salt of Earth is inherent to Salgado's characteristic style, his black-and-white universe ...

  28. Review: Is 'Saltburn' an Eat-the-Rich Comedy? Not Quite.

    After a not-quite accidental encounter, an unassuming Oxford student named Ollie (Barry Keoghan) befriends a popular classmate, the handsome and wealthy Felix (Jacob Elordi).

  29. 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Review: Netflix's Live-Action Remake

    The streamer's take on the beloved animated series centers on a young boy tasked with saving the world by mastering all four elements: earth, air, water and fire. By Angie Han Television Critic ...