The Salt of the Earth (2014) Script

The Serra-Pelada, Brazil's gold mine... there before me!

When I reached the edge of that enormous hole... every hair on my body stood on end.

I'd never seen anything like it.

Here, in a split second, I saw unfolding before me... the history of mankind...

The building of the pyramids... the Tower of Babel... the mines of King Solomon...

Not the sound of a single machine could be heard.

All you could hear... was the babble of 50,000 people in one huge hole.

Conversations, noises, human sounds... mingled with the sounds of manual labor...

I had returned to the dawn of time.

I could almost hear the gold whispering in the souls of these men.

All this earth had to be removed.

It's not all gold.

The guys had to climb small ladders... leading to bigger ones... to emerge at the top.

You wouldn't want to fall down there!

If you fell from the top you'd risk taking others with you.

I'd climb up several times a day... but I never thought I'd fall.

Nobody else fell.

You were there to carry sacks, not to fall. And in my case, to take photos.

These guys climbed it 50 or 60 times a day.

The only way to get down such a slope... is by running.

If you stop, you fall.

All these men together formed an extremely organized world... but in complete madness.

You get the impression they're slaves... but there wasn't a single slave.

They were only slaves to the idea of getting rich.

Everybody wanted to get rich.

There were all sorts: intellectuals, university graduates... farm employees... urban workers...

People from all walks of life were trying their luck.

Because when you'd hit a vein of gold... everyone working that little section of the mine... had the right to choose one sack.

And in that sack that they chose... and this is the slavery aspect- there might be nothing or a kilo of gold!

At that very moment one's freedom was at stake.

Men who come into contact with gold... can never leave it.


If you put too many photographers in one place... they'll all take very different pictures.

Because they necessarily come... from very diverse places.

Each one forms their way of seeing... according to their history.

I feel that in my case...

I learned to shape my way of seeing here, in this place.

Here I have an idea of the planet.

I'd go for long walks with my father... across this farm.

We'd come here to look.

Behind each mountain there's a story, there's something to see.

I'd dream a lot here.

I wanted to go beyond the mountains, I wanted to know.


Sebastião was such a rascal!

He was always traveling... like no one I'd ever seen.

My dad was the same, he never stopped.

Back and forth, like a shuttle.

Just like Sebastião.

You'd think he was in Vitória, but he'd already be here... or up north doing politics.

Without his fellow students he wouldn't have finished his studies.

Tiao was a scamp when it came to studying.

He was a handful, but he managed to get his economics degree.

I wanted him to be a lawyer.

He did one year... then switched to economics, which was good for him.


Wim, I have a nice shot of you. And I got one of you!

I bet you did!

Look...


These were my first photographs.

We were in the city of Tahoua.

Young mothers were standing in line... to get some food... as there'd been a severe drought in Niger in '73.

For Lélia it was tough, because she was pregnant.

I remember, we were in that very place... living at a friend's home at Niamey... when the local Marabout came by.

Lélia was wearing shorts, she was really pretty.

And the Marabout sat down... and said to her...

"Come sit on my lap!"

"Oh," I said...

"Mr. Marabout, there's a slight problem...

This woman is pregnant... with our first child.

So it's best she stays put."

So he understood that...

it wasn't the right synchronicity.

So we talked it over and he left with a kilo of sugar... as happy as if it'd been Lélia.


Ever since we'd left Brazil in 1969...

I'd deeply missed South America.

So I decided to travel... around Brazil's neighboring countries:

Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia...

I dreamt of seeing the mountains of South America... the Andes.

At the time, in South America... there was a profound social movement... the "Liberation Theology".

And on this journey I met a young priest, in Ecuador... called Gabicho.

We were both young, I a photographer, he a priest.

He brought them the word of God... he organized the farmers into cooperatives, introduced solidarity.

And since he had access to all these communities... those journeys I made were extraordinary.

There we were, over 3,000 meters up.

We'd climb 600 or 700 meters in a day.

It was a sheer delight to live in this landscape... among these communities.

These are the Saraguros, a tribe of Indians in the south of Ecuador.

Very religious, but also great drinkers.

Over half of them, at the weekend, men and women... would get totally drunk.

The villager on the left... his name is Lupe, Guadalupe...

Lupe and I became very close.

At the time I had very long hair... long blond hair... with a big, reddish blond beard.

Walking with him through the mountains... one day he said to me, "Listen, Sebastião.

I know that you were sent from heaven."

According to the Saraguros' legends...

God, in the image of Christ... was to return to Earth to observe them... to decide who'd go to heaven.

As we walked in the mountains, he told me about his life.

He seriously believed that I'd come as a special observer... to report "up there" about their behavior.

Never in my life had I met a people... with such a different sense of time.

The time I spent with the Saraguros felt like an entire century... everything felt so slow.

It was another way of thinking, a different rhythm.

There was a fatalism on their faces.

This is in the state of Oaxaca, in Mexico.

A group of farmers called the Mixe.

It's all medieval, the yoke, the plow...

This is deepest South America.

They were a country people... but what mattered most to them... was music.

They were people who adored music.

Every member of the community able to play an instrument... didn't have to do any work... they worked as musicians.

They had me sleep for several days... in a very cold cement room... to see if I could bear it, if I really wanted to stay...

As I held out for quite a while... they finally put me up in a house... and I grew much closer to the community.

It was a pleasure for me.

We became close friends, I felt good there.

This is in the north of Mexico. The Tarahumara.

These people are great runners, long-distance runners.

They don't walk, they run.

God, it was hell trying to keep up.

They didn't walk, they flew!

That's a Tarahumara... his face deeply marked by life.

Beautiful hair, fantastic hair.

People would approach my camera... and I had the impression I was more a sound recorder.

They'd tell me things as if I was recording their stories.

The power of a portrait lies in that fraction of a second... when you catch a glimpse of that person's life.

The eyes say a lot, the expression on the face...

When you take a portrait, the shot is not yours alone.

The person offers it to you.

Those journeys meant so much to me.

To come here after all those years, unable to set foot in my own country.

The essence was the same. It was my continent, we were so close.


Goddamn bear!

He tricked us.

He drove them all into the water. Incredible!


What do you think?

What do you think, Dad?

I think it'll be complicated to get this story.

If this is all we've got...

It's not just a matter of getting close to a bear and taking a picture.

If the framing is poor... you'll just show the bear, but it won't be a photo.

This spot is no good.

There's nothing in the background... nothing to compose a well-framed picture.

No action, nothing.


Stunning!

All I could see was the shape of their tusks.

Impossible to make out the outline of their heads.

It was like being in Dante's Inferno... with those tusks protruding...

All those shapes... Incredible!


Dad, what happened in 1979?

In '79, Lélia was pregnant with our second son.

We knew it was a boy.

When Rodrigo was born... he had all the signs of Down's syndrome.

He was so cute with his slanted eyes...

I felt he was completely normal.

So did Lélia.

The doctor did a lot of tests. It was three weeks before we knew.

On the day he called... the tension was such... that when I heard the results, I cried.

I couldn't stop crying.


It was December 31, I'd returned to Brazil!

It was great to be home... after ten and a half years abroad.

It was a shock. Lélia's hometown wasn't the same.

Vitória had changed a lot. Everything was different.

My region had changed a lot too.

When I left my parents, they were young and strong.

Upon returning, I found an old man. My father had aged a lot.

But at that time...

I wanted to explore Brazil more deeply.

My sister lent me a car... and I made a six-month journey in the North-East of Brazil.

I didn't know the North-East.

I'd always dreamt of that part of Brazil.


These people were going to a funeral.

I stopped by the roadside and went with them.

Infant mortality was very high in the North-East of Brazil.

These children died before they were baptized.

They believe that children who are not baptized... don't have the right to go to heaven.

They stay in an in-between realm... called limbo.

If a child dies with its eyes closed it's because it was baptized.

If its eyes are open... they leave them open so it can find its way.

Otherwise it will wander for eternity.

Back then, there was a service for renting coffins at the church.

You could rent a coffin cheaply.

It'd be used dozens of times.

There you can see such a coffin rental service.

And yes, those are shoes.

They sold everything: shoes, coffins, bananas, vegetables... ice-cream, everything...

It's a region where life and death are very close.

Here's a group saying prayers... and learning about politics at the same time.

In Brazil there was, and still is... a big movement called the "Landless Workers".

Many of them came from here... from the North-East of Brazil.

These people... have a moral strength... a physical force... even though they're frail and eat poorly.

Look how arid this region is.

It's like a piece of the Sahel in Brazil.

Here, on the road... people are leaving, never to return.

Sometimes it's so dry, so difficult here... that people migrate to the southern cities.

For them it's over, they abandon the land.


For many years now... we've been suffering from a lack of rain.

There were a lot of cattle here before... but they're all gone now.

There have been severe droughts.

The pastures are gone, it doesn't pay anymore.

Why has it gone, Grandfather?

Because of the drought.

We replanted, but there's not a blade of grass left.

It wasn't that long ago.

Your dad and I... we spent more than 20,000.

Where did it go?

This land was so plentiful.

There were lots of birds... canaries and ticoticos... blackbirds...

There used to be a great forest on that hill... and another forest over that hill.

There has been a lot of erosion.

The hills are now barren.

When it rains... there's nothing to hold back the water.

It's a disaster.

I have no idea... how to stop it.

Grandpa, were you happy on this farm?

Sorry?

Were you happy here?

Was I happy?

I was, because I was able to provide an education... for my seven daughters... and Sebastião.

I raised my children, it was tough... but I'm happy I did it.

I earned 100,000 from the woods alone... to put the children through school.

They were all brought up well... well fed, properly dressed...


I worked in Ethiopia in 1984... and continued across the Sahel in '85 and '86.

I spent almost two years in that region... reporting on the famine.

There were refugee camps... the largest ever seen in human history.

And I really wanted to show that.

To show that a large part of humanity... was suffering from great distress... due to a problem of sharing... and not just a natural disaster.

This was a Coptic region.

They are very strict Christians, the Northern Ethiopians.

They have great humility.

Even with a dying child... they wouldn't get in front of others.

They'd rather wait.

Look at the state of the people.

At that stage, they've no strength left.

They say people die of famine.

Famine weakens the body... but it's the parallel diseases that kill.

When you catch cholera, the dehydration is so fast... that you lose 12 liters of water a day from diarrhea.

You die in two or three days.

Such young faces... aged from so much suffering.

If you look at his forehead, he's not an old man.

What's old about him is the emptiness in his eyes.

Look how young she is, look at their baby!

He's her husband.

Most deaths were at night... from the cold.

Dying here was really a continuation of life.

The people were used to dying.

A husband is washing his wife to bury her.

In his mountain clothes, his goat skin...

A very young woman.

In the Coptic ritual... the body has to be clean when it comes before God.

You have to wash it all over... even if there's very little water.

With each dying person a piece of everyone else dies.

A father is preparing his son for burial... saying his last goodbye.

Family members usually prepare their dead.

Knowing that a government... is withholding food from its people... as was the actual case here... in this camp in Northern Ethiopia...

That was brutal political dishonesty.

I returned to Ethiopia at the end of 1984.

The guerillas knew the government was about to drive these people out... so they started evacuating people towards Sudan.

They left from all over Tigray.

We were attacked by two helicopters.

Mi-24s. Very fast combat helicopters.

They shot at the people with machine-guns.

I took a photo and then I ran.

There were many pregnant women... hoping that when they'd arrive they'd find food and water.

That they'd finally reach the promised land.

I must have spent... at least two months there.

And when I arrived in Sudan...

I did a lot of work on the arrival of these people.

This man had come from Ethiopia.

His camel had reached its limit. Maybe it was dead.

But the man was holding on and on...

Yet when he reached the doctors, his child was dead.

After such a long march.

Doctors Without Borders had to give up this camp.

Water is essential in these camps... and it had become a huge problem.

So they had to move the camp as fast as possible.

People were crammed into UN trucks... to take them to a new camp... on a beautiful and fertile piece of land... on the banks of the Blue Nile.

I rode on this truck for at least 300 or 400 kilometers.

These are two friends... pretending it was a normal Sunday afternoon... sitting under a tree, telling stories...

There's lots of water by the Nile, but that's where the people died... because...

There was nothing to eat.

They were in the final stages of their distress.

They'd forgotten to bring food, or hadn't been able to.

The food distribution had gone wrong.

These people had held on so long... but when they got there, they could no more.

I went to Mali.

There was a severe drought there too.

The skin becomes like tree bark... like a tree marked by the desert wind... by sandstorm after sandstorm...

There were only women and kids.

The men had left to work in Libya... or headed for the Ivory Coast, looking for work... promising to return and bring food for the family.

But very few came back.

They were all saved... because Doctors Without Borders did great work.

They brought assistance to this whole area.

This is a friend, Luc, a Belgian doctor.

Measuring a kid, weighing him.

In two or three weeks these children completely recover.

They're marked by it, all their lives... having experienced such deprivation while growing up.

This boy was alone... with his instrument, his little guitar, in his hand...

With his rag of a shirt still hanging on him.

No trousers, nothing.

Look at his determination, his posture.

He knew where he was going.

Looking for other groups, looking for a village... with his dog...

A boy of eight or nine.


I wanted to pay homage... to all the men and women who built the world around us.

An archeology of the industrial era.


As soon as I saw the first images on I felt the urge to cover this story.

It was like working in a huge theater.

500 oil wells burning.

A giant stage, the size of the planet.

No restrictions, you could go where you wanted.

There was a discharge of heavy oil smoke.

The smoke was so dense, the sun couldn't cut through.

There were days when it was dark for 24 hours straight.

Once a fire was put out... the earth was still very hot.

They had to pour a huge amount of water on to cool it.

If not, the oil would just re-ignite.

But despite that... there'd sometimes be an explosion, like a cannon shot.

The noise was so deafening... it was like working next to a jet engine.

Now I'm a little deaf.

That's where my deafness began.

These are Canadians... a unit of firefighters from Calgary.

They'd brought a beautiful red truck.

And it was their rule, once they'd put out a fire... to wash the truck every evening.

And in the morning it'd be covered in oil again.

A hellish job!

I put off my departure at least 2 or 3 times... until I really had to leave.

But it broke my heart... to abandon this vast spectacle.

I roamed around.

And very close to the end... we were driving by this long wall...

That day I was with a journalist from The New York Times -

Since it was a no-man's-land, ruined by war... we broke down the gate.

And inside... we found a sort of... paradise... that had turned into hell.

It was a garden belonging to the Kuwaiti royal family... with horses, thoroughbreds... that had gone completely, desperately insane.

Animals are the first to flee from a catastrophe... when they're free to leave.

But here, they weren't.

There were birds there too, it was an oasis... very well irrigated.

Birds who couldn't fly anymore as their feathers were stuck together.

The Kuwaitis fled when they felt the disaster approaching... leaving behind the imprisoned animals... and the Bedouins whom they didn't really consider as humans.


I was doing my project on the displacement of peoples... in 1994... when the president of Rwanda... his plane was shot down.

That started a huge exodus towards Tanzania... due to the brutal repression of the Tutsis in Rwanda.

I was one of the first to arrive there.

The catastrophe was everywhere.

People were fleeing to Burundi... to the Congo, to Uganda...

They were leaving in all directions.

The roads were already full of people...

People sleeping by the roadsides... carrying all their belongings on bicycles... fleeing with whatever they could take.

We headed in the opposite direction... towards the border.

There was no border control whatsoever.

I entered Rwanda, and it was terrifying.

The number of dead bodies I saw on that road...

Here, a grenade had exploded.

Those not killed by the grenade were killed with machetes.

There, I began to sense... the sheer scale of the disaster I was witnessing.

A genocide was in progress here.

It was 150 kilometers by road to Kigali...

150 kilometers of dead bodies...

I turned back, because my story was about people.

I was doing my book on refugees, I was working on Exodus.

I started going into the camps... and I began to see... the sheer number of people leaving Rwanda.

Hell was taking the place of paradise.

It was frightening... to see, on such a beautiful savanna... this mega city springing up.

Within days, there were almost a million people here.

Among all this distress, one thing that really moved me... was the relationship between this mother and her child... and the child's trust in its mother.

Violence... and brutality... are not the monopoly... of remote countries.

It happened right here, in Europe, in ex-Yugoslavia.

It was very shocking.

A bus coming from Krajina through Croatia... a person was killed through that hole.

The Croats killed lots of people too as they left Krajina.

Violence was everywhere.

But what disgusted me most... was to see how contagious hatred was.

These people too saw violence.

Entire families... the whole Serbian population of Krajina was expelled.

And overnight, they found themselves... evicted from their homes, looking for a place to go... having their next-door neighbors shooting at them.

These were refugee camps not far from Tuzla... in central Bosnia.

These families had left the enclave of Zepa... where Serbs murdered thousands of young men.

We were there at the very moment when the families were arriving... in a state of great distress.

There were only women, old men... and children.

The younger men had all been held and murdered.

It was strange that this was happening in Europe... at the end of the 20th century.

From the cars alone... you can see these people had a standard of living... a European standard of living... a European intellectual level... a European infrastructure.

And they lost everything.

Hundreds of kilometers, crowded with people and cars.

We are a ferocious animal.

We humans are terrible animals.

Here in Europe, in Africa, in South America, everywhere... we are extremely violent.

Our history is a history of wars.

It's an endless story... a story of repression... a tale of madness.

The situation in Rwanda kept changing.

The Hutu army, which was ruling the country, was defeated... and retreated into the Congo, to the Goma region.

First, the Tutsis had fled the Hutu barbarity.

And then, the Hutus... fled the Tutsi occupation.

So everybody fled, in turn.

In just a few days... in July 1994... the Goma region... received more than 2 million people.

It was a disaster in the making.

Diseases such as cholera started spreading... and the people began to die like ants.

12 to 15 thousand died every day.

I was taking photos of these piles of corpses... when I saw the dad coming with his kid.

He threw him on the pile... and left with his friend, chatting as if nothing had happened.

They couldn't bury all the people.

So a bulldozer came from the French army... which took dozens at a time... laid them out on the ground... and covered them with earth.

Everybody should see these images... to see how terrible our species is.

Orphan kids, who were on the road.

Three children... the two with the livelier eyes would live.

The one whose eyes are clouded was dying.

When I got out of there, I was ill... my body was very sick.

I didn't have any infectious diseases... but my soul was sick.

I went back to Rwanda one year after the disaster... to cover the return of the Hutus who'd been in the Congo... and had nowhere to go.

The United Nations started forcing them to return.

You felt the whole planet was covered with refugee tents.

After working there... the Tutsi authorities suggested that I should see... a few of the places where the massacres had occurred.

People had fled to a church, believing they'd be safe.

All murdered!

Here, it happened in a school.

You can still see what was written on the blackboard that clay.

It was terrifying.

The people who had left Rwanda, about 2 million refugees... some went back to Rwanda... but others were afraid of the repression.

So a column of about 250,000 people left the city of Goma... and entered the Congo forest.

We lost track of them.

Everybody knew there were 250,000 lost people.

Nobody knew where they were.

Six months later... they started appearing near Kisangani, in the center of the Congo.

They'd lived in the forest for 6 months.

So the UN took me there.

There was a train and I took it.

It was dropping off food, then heading back.

But I said, "I'm staying."

I spent three days with these people, who kept arriving.

Columns and columns of them...

To think that when they left they were 250,000... and only 40,000 made it here!

210,000 people were missing!

Yet at the same time, life went on.

A guy cutting hair...

Or even this Congolese guy... with his calculator... who was trying to collect... the few dollars he was sure people had on them... which he was trying to exchange, in the middle of nowhere!

In the middle of a remote forest.

At that time... the pro-Tutsi guerilla movement that had seized Kisangani... began to expel these people again... to send them back.

Six months to get there, and now back to Rwanda!

They began to kill some of them.

There, I met people who just couldn't take any more.

Who started to be delirious... losing their minds...

They were driven mad.

In fact, those people who were expelled... were never heard from again.

I believe they were all murdered.

That was my last trip, that disastrous time in Rwanda.

When I left there...

I no longer believed in anything, in any salvation for the human species.

You couldn't survive such a thing.

We didn't deserve to live.

No one deserved to live.

How many times did I lay my cameras down to cry over what I'd seen?


I remember, during the first plantation...

I sometimes dreamt that everything had died.

Because the soil was so bad here, so damaged... that I asked myself, "Will it ever grow?"

The Mata Atlântica has 400 different species.

Of course, we don't have all 400 of them... but each time, we plant... it's 100 species...

150 species...

After the first planting we lost 60%.

After the second, we lost 40%.

We had no book to teach us how to replant... a Mata Atlântica.

I love coming up here... to see all these trees together... this mass of green forest.

You can imagine what it took to plant all these trees.

When I was a kid... we had a little waterfall.

All year long, it cascaded down there.

My sisters and I would walk here to the waterfall, for picnics.

There was still an enormous forest.

Later... the forest was cut down and the water vanished.

Our forest is still young, it needs a lot of water.

But in 10, 15 years, when this growth has stabilized...

I'm sure we'll have a beautiful waterfall once more.


You can see... lots of little paths... hundreds of them...

That's where the cows walk.

Each cow's hoof, as it touches the ground... presses down with 200 or 250 kilos on one small space.

The soil flattens, it dries out... and nothing grows on it anymore.

It's interesting to see the difference... between what the Instituto Terra was before, meadows like that... and what it is today, a completely rebuilt eco-system... with our 2 million trees.


Here you can see... a cicada that sang until it died.

I'm sure its body wasn't enclosed in the tree like that.

The termites have built around it, assimilated it.

It'll be buried in there.

You look at a tree and you think only of its verticality, its beauty...

But everything depends on the tree, our water, our oxygen...

It's everyone's home.

Ants, small insects, cicadas... they're all in there.

It feels good to hold a tree you've helped to plant.

It's already deeply rooted, firm in the ground...

Thirty years from now, it'll be like this.

It's still quite young, still growing.

These are even younger ones, tiny ones.

Maybe they sprouted last night... like Alice entering Wonderland.

It's incredible that they'll become trees 40 meters or so high... and will live for 400 or 500 years.

What power!

To think that these three-month-old trees... will reach their apex in 400 years.

Perhaps from there we could try to grasp... the concept of eternity.

Maybe eternity is measurable.

When I first said, "Let's plant a forest"...

I thought that from a seed I'd grow a small tree, a small plant...

Well, this isn't one small plant, it's a million!

And it's not only for here.

It's for the whole region, and further each time.

What's wonderful is that an idea...

can develop and grow.

And it's no longer one person's idea, it's everyone's.

Our technology can be reproduced almost everywhere.

Of course, species differ.

But the know-how is the same... for every tropical forest.


We came to the conclusion... that I could do a new project related to the environment.

Of course, I first thought... of denouncing the destruction of the forests... or the pollution of the oceans... whatever.

Then we thought we'd do a different sort of project.

We'd pay a tribute to the planet.

And we were very surprised to discover... that almost half of the planet is still... like at the time of creation.

Many of my friends said, "No, you shouldn't take that route.

"It's risky. You're known as a social photographer...

"And you're venturing into the field...

"of landscape, or wildlife photography."

I said, "I don't care, let's do it!

"I have to learn to photograph that as well."

And I started my first story.

I wanted it to be Galapagos.

I wanted to understand what Darwin had understood.

The same species... in very different ecosystems... will evolve very differently.

Looking at this detail of an iguana's paw...

I can't help thinking... of the hand of a medieval knight... with those metallic scales to protect him.

Looking at the paw's bone structure...

I see that the iguana is also my cousin.

That we came from the same cell.

When you're in front of a creature of that age... you're facing a real authority... with all those wrinkles, all that knowledge.

When Darwin came here... that turtle would already have been an adult.

Maybe it saw Darwin. Who knows?

One day I was very tired... as we'd been walking a long time across some lava fields.

I lay down on the beach to rest... and I felt something touch my leg.

I looked and it was a sea lion.

Another one came up beside us.

We were three sea lions!

They didn't see man as a predator, nor as a threat.

That was my first nature report... the first time I photographed other animals.

For eight years, I took my time observing.

The main thing was to understand... that I'm as much a part of nature as a turtle, or a tree... or a pebble.


Amazing how he looks at us...

Indeed...

There's depth in there!

He was coming closer, I was photographing him... his hand in his mouth...

He was seeing himself in a mirror for the first time... the front of the lens.

He was taking his finger out, putting it back... realizing that it was him.

He was becoming aware of his image, and I sensed total identification.

They are families like ours... with grandfathers, fathers, grandchildren.

They respect each other.

And when you visit them, you have to be polite... to stand in a certain way... you have to respect their territory.

And then you're welcomed.

I also befriended a whale.

These are whales... in Argentina.

An adult like this is 35 meters long, weighs about 40 tons.

She came so close to the boat...

I could touch her.

And it was incredible. Such sensitive skin!

As I was caressing her...

I could see her tail, 35 meters away, trembling.

Incredible sensitivity.

We had a small boat, just 7> meters long.

She knew she could have sunk us.

But she never once hit the boat. Not once!

As we left, she began tapping her tail...


That's like another planet!

It's quite incredible.

Let me see if I have another photo of the Nenets.

See, everything a Nenet owns is here.

That's their house.

I'd been planning this work on the Nenets for a long time.

About eighteen people, with six thousand reindeer... constantly migrating.

This must be about seven in the evening.

At about eight in the evening they'd light a fire... and cook the only hot meal of the day.

After the meal, we'd chat a bit. Everybody talked.

They'd put out the fire.

While the fire was burning, it was 15 to 20 degrees, quite nice.

Two hours later, it was minus thirty.

They're the real cowboys of Siberia.

They always have their lasso... made of reindeer skin, around their necks.

They have boots made of silver-fox skin.

They sleep with them. Those boots last a lifetime.

The Ob is a very special river... a huge Siberian river.

At this spot, it's about 47 kilometers wide.

Once past the Ob, you're in the Arctic Circle.

There's no horizon, there's nothing.

You are on a white plate, as wide as the universe.


There were accounts of the Zo'é in 16th-century Jesuit writings.

They went to Amazonia and spoke about these people... who wore a tube of wood inside their lower lip.

These Indians were never seen again.

It was believed to be a fairytale... or an invention by the Jesuits... until the end of the eighties... when these Indians were contacted again.


These Indians really live in a paradise.

It's the only place I've found... where the women have 3 or 4 or 5 husbands... and the husbands have as many wives.

Each woman has a hunting husband... a fishing husband... a farming husband... one who's a handyman, who helps around the house...

The women have enormous power.

They have an influence over some of the men... that's quite considerable.


One thing I always found interesting about all these peoples... was their perfect consciousness of their appearance.

When I was about to take a photo... they'd know I was going to make a representation of their image.

At first they'd be eager, then, they'd lose interest.

It wasn't their world.

On the other hand, they were very interested in my knife.

My friend Ypô made me swear to give him my knife.

But the National Indian Foundation... made me promise not to give any of my objects to the Indians... to protect their purity.

So he said, "Let's make a deal.

"They day you leave...

"throw your knife out of the airplane window.

"I'll follow the plane's path...

"and I'll find your knife!"

These plants are very old.

They've been here for 40 or 50 years.

They're wonderful plants... samambaia.

A plant of the shade, from the heart of our forest... from the highest parts.

It reminds me of my mother's hair.

My mother was very beautiful.

These were her plants, and after she died...

Dad took care of them until he passed away.

Then, we brought them here.

Look, it's raining.

Beautiful rain.

This land is extremely important to us.

We're completing a cycle with this land.

Within this cycle, we have spent our lives.

The lives of my parents... the lives of my sisters... a large part of my life...

And today, we're living our lives here again...

Lélia and I.

This land continues to tell our story.

It formed my childhood and accompanies my old age.

And when I die... this forest will once again be like when I was born.

And the cycle will be complete.

It's the story of my life.