Volume 95, Issue 38

Thursday, November 8, 2001
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Salgado turns lens on world

Outside the Box

Domestic mess needs tidying up

Salgado turns lens on world

The Spectre of Hope premieres on TVO

The Spectre of Hope
Directed By:
Paul Carlin
Three stars (out of five)

By Andrea Chiu
Gazette Staff

Globalization – what is it?

The term "globalization" is certainly something we've all become familiar with, despite the inherent difficulties defining it.

One can discuss "globalization" in many different contexts, such as business, media, human rights and so forth, but it is through the lens of his camera that Sebastaio Salgado chooses to express his interpretations of the word's meaning.

The Brazilian-born Salgado was once an economist who worked with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Now he's a photographer who has spent six years travelling the world, visiting 43 countries and capturing the faces and stories of what he considers "globalized people."

Photo by Sebastaio Salgado

ANOTHER VICTIM OF GLOBALIZATION? Sebastaio Salgado showcases samples from two of his collections Migrations and Children in tonight's Canadian premiere of The Spectre of Hope

Across the world, he found stories of poverty, sadness and war, yet through it all, Salgado maintains a genuine hope that in some way, these people can one day be saved.

The Spectre of Hope is a documentary directed by Paul Carlin. It features a discussion between Salgado and John Berger, a leading British writer and art critic. The two men combine efforts to reflect on Salgado's startling images and discuss the consequences of social and economic change on a global context.

The photographs featured in this one-hour film are from Salgado's two collections: Migrations: Humanity in Transition and Children: Refugees and Migrants. They both depict tragic stories of unemployed, poverty-stricken migrants and victims of war who have been put into refugee camps.

By contrast, Salgado's beautiful portraits of children from around the world are, as he says himself, "the true spectres of hope."

The Spectre of Hope is definitely interesting and educational. However, the documentary form makes the message far less moving than simply viewing one of Salgado's photographs or books.

John Berger's narration, though at times helpful in adding dramatic effect, is mostly unnecessary. Salgado is truly a gifted photographer and the use of narration and readings are more insulting than complimentary to his work.

Berger is actually the downfall to what is otherwise a quality documentary. The British writer unfortunately takes the focus away from the modest Brazilian photographer. The film could have been much more informative and could have distinguished itself from Salgado's photographs if it had allowed the spotlight to focus more on the photographer, his life and his views on globalization.

The Spectre of Hope comes close to this realization near the end when Salgado acknowledges he is unsure if the photographs and the making of the documentary are helpful.

His goal though is to show the world the "real feelings" of people, as he hopes these forms of expression will one day guide him to a proper way of helping humankind.

With little explanation of the photographs and only a brief taste of who Sebastaio Salgado really is, The Spectre of Hope doesn't bring anything new to its audience, (especially ones already familiar with his work).

The documentary doesn't offer solutions to the globalization issue, which it attempts to discuss. However, The Spectre of Hope is still important for the sole reason that it's an acknowledgment of a global problem and for that – it's a small step in the right direction.

The Canadian premiere of The Spectre of Hope airs tonight at 10 p.m. as part of Masterworks on TVO and repeats on Saturday at 4:30 a.m..

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Copyright The Gazette 2001