The Salt of the Earth Review
RYAN: This was Oscar nominated for Best Documentary and is now rolling into wider release. It was basically a passion project for director Wim Wenders, who has done some very weird movies like Don’t Come Knocking, which I only sought out because Fairuza Balk was in it.
CAROLINE: Oh, from The Craft.
RYAN: Yes but I love her from Return to Oz. She was Dorothy.
CAROLINE: Of course.
RYAN: Anyway, Wim is a big fan of this amazing historical photographer Sebastiao Salgado and made this documentary about his career with the help of Sebastiao’s son, Juliano.
CAROLINE: And how was it?
RYAN: Not good. I can’t believe this got an Oscar nom. It’s one of the most boring docs ever and it was offensive to my eyes.
CAROLINE: (laughs) How so?
RYAN: There’s a great deal of the film that shows his photos of dead people and dead bodies from a very awful time and I just didn’t have the stomach for it. I literally sat and covered my eyes. And then after several minutes, looked and it was still there so I actually walked out to take a break from this imagery. When I went back in it was still happening so I just peaced-out of there!
CAROLINE: Stop! You left the screening?
RYAN: Yes. There was only about 20 minutes left but I just couldn’t take it and I’m being honest. And really much of the rest of the film that shows his photos and tells his story plays just like a slide show or powerpoint presentation. It didn’t feel like a film to me. I cannot deny he is stunningly talented as a photographer – he is an artist and deserves this sort of immortalization, but it just wasn’t for me.
CAROLINE: I understand. It’s been so long since you walked out of a movie though.
RYAN: Remember when we used to walk down the street in NY and point gross things out to each other and react, like, “Thanks a lot. Why did you make me see that?!”
CAROLINE: Ha! Yes! OMG that was the worst.
RYAN: This movie was like that. Look the pictures are pure genius, but I just couldn’t look them. They were too real. I liked that the film is split between English and French with subtitles. Artistically it’s nice that there is a lot of black and white, because that’s what the photos are.
CAROLINE: So there are some merits, but you just really never got into it.
RYAN: This movie takes you on a real journey, it’s like an art history or photojournalism class. It goes all around the world and covers so many different cultures. He basically reminisces about his photos. I just couldn’t take looking at all of the sadness and the people who died of Cholera, etc… this may interest some people but I’m not one of them.