Planet In Focus 2016: Our Review of ‘Salero’

Planet In Focus 2016: Our Review of ‘Salero’

It is said that Neil Armstrong could see the great Salar de Uyuni salt flats of Bolivia from the moon.  He mistook the brilliant white flats for glaciers but from the ground they appear almost otherworldly or moonlike if you will.

Salero, a stunning documentary from director Mike Plunkett, showcases the flats in all their glory.  The film follows Moises, who makes his living harvesting salt from the Salar, like three generations of men before him.  When prospectors discover vast stores of lithium beneath the flats the government sets about mining the element, which promises massive profits for the Bolivian economy but threatens to change Moises’ life forever.

It is a breathtaking film.  The rich cinematography, sweeping camera work and evocative music augment the strange and haunting beauty of the Salar and the film has an almost dreamlike quality.  It fact, it looks and feels less like a documentary and more like an art film, bringing to mind of the work of Michelangelo Antonioni and Terrence Malick.

But perhaps the true strength of the film is Moises himself.  A philosopher at heart, his reflections on money, morality and the nature of transformation are astounding insightful and eloquent.  Yet for all of his wisdom Moises has difficulty accepting that his way of life is coming to an end.  He is reluctant to give up on his desire to spend his life on the Salar and pass his trade on to his children.

Salero is a poignant and hypnotic experience about saying goodbye to the past and moving ever further away from a way of life at one with the land.  It is a tone poem on dreams, greed and the inevitability of change, all in a place as peaceful and ethereal as the moon.

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Galadriel fell in love with the movies when she was taken to see Superman at the age of three. Legend has it she watched the whole thing standing up with her jaw on the floor. She went on to see Superman four more times in the theatre and developed a lifelong passion for film. Galadriel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto which she parlayed into a ten year stint at Blockbuster Video and more recently a career in nursing. But some things never change – she still loves movies and counts Gone with the Wind, Amadeus, The Shawshank Redemption, La Dolce Vita and the films of Michelangelo Antonioni among her favourites. She is also obsessed with the Oscars and knows more about them than any one person should. Galadriel currently lives in Toronto with her husband and young daughter who is soon to see her very first movie in the theatre.