The Salt of the Earth

Schooled as an economist, Sebastião Salgados has brought to his subsequent photojournalism career a sense of the big picture, of how third-world peoples interact with their environments and how those environments are defined by global forces. For this career-spanning documentary, director Wim Wenders accompanies the photographer on his travels, the color documentary footage punctuated by Salgados’s stunning, minutely detailed black-and-white images. Scenes of famine and suffering refugees underscore how much misery can result from a people’s troubled relationship with the land, yet Salgados’s latest long-term project, Genesis, records untouched natural landscapes and people who’ve learned to live in harmony with the earth, providing a utopian coda to a severely dystopian chronicle of the late 20th century. Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, the photographer’s son, codirected.