Free Movie Review On Wasteland
There is an old saying that ‘Beauty is in the eye of beholder.’ Wasteland, directed by Lucy Walker and released in 2010, is a testament to that analogy. The film follows artist Vic Morrow as he travels to his home country of Brazil. Vic Morrow essentially makes art out of garbage. In his home country of Brazil, he travels to the outskirts of Rio in Jardim Gramacho which is the largest landfill in the world. It is estimated that 7000 tons of trash are dumped there every 24 hours. The people who sort through these vast amount of trash, or the ‘pickers’ are the real tragic arc of the story. On a given day, there are 3000-5000 pickers who sought through the trash. Their lives are intertwined with poverty, destitution and vile pollution. On a regular basis as they sought through the trash, they suffer major health problems coupled with malnutrition. On the other hand, their job allows them to avoid falling into prostitution and drug trafficking. Without the life of picking, their life holds no future. Vic Muniz aims to make their lives a little better. Whether it’s a struggling father or other women who are former prostitutes, the goal is essentially the same. Vic Muniz is an unconventional artist. Using recyclable materials, he creates life size portraits that delve into the facets of the human spirit. The catch is that with every sale of these recycled art pieces, the proceeds go into a charitable trust to make the lives of the pickers better.
One of the scenes that stand out in the film is the initial scene where Muniz believes was the life changing event that altered his course in his life. For instance, take the scene where he spends time with the children of the Caribbean who are happy and content. Their parents on the other hands have faces that seem counterproductive to the lives of their children. They work 16 – 17 hours a day in the sugar plantation. The portraits which were made from cane sugar are significant as Muniz imagines what their life would look like in 20 years. With the camera focusing on an extreme close-up of each portraits made of adults, it pushes the point even more that happiness is missing from the lives of a lower class working adult.
Another recurring theme of the film is that the larger population of Brazil sees the pickers as less than human. In India, they would be regarded as ‘untouchables.’ The people of Brazil rather not see or hear them. In an astonishing slow montage, the filmmakers portray this in medium close up and over head wide shots. The audience sees garbage slowly unload garbage as several pickers seem to be ant like in their behavior as they scurry through the garbage. The montage goes from dawn till night as they camera pans across the screen in slow motion. As the montage transitions into night, the camera from a wide-angle shot catches the pickers in the form of a silhouette as the orange sun is setting. In the night, the audience only seems the flame to light up the scene as a shadowy with a garbage bag runs though the scene. It’s an unimaginable sight that is astounding in its imagery. It speaks further to the position of the pickers and their place in Brazilian society.
The most touching scene is when the recycled art work is auctioned. Sebastião Carlos Dos Santos, dressed in simple black shirt waits pensively in the audience as the piece of art is sold for 28,000 pounds. The filmmakers cut between Carlos, the auctioneer and the people on the phone. The scene is trying to push that this money will certainly help the pickers. The camera alternates between medium and extreme close up of Carlos. When Carlos breaks down, the camera doesn’t leave his sight. He hugs Muniz and continues to cry. What is perhaps an unintentional shot of the filmmaker is that the background is almost white, neat and clean in the art gallery. This shot is different when Carlos was in his usual surroundings of dust, dirt and destitution. It leaves a significant impact on the viewer as it portrays the length of Carlos’s journey from the beginning of the film as it nears its end as he relishes the idea of how much the money will help his organization.
These specific speak to the larger theme of the film. That even in darkness, there is light. Right from Muniz’s life altering event to Carlos realizing that garbage can bring about a profit and help the people that he fights for. The ability to see beauty in the belly of the beast is perhaps the message the film tries to hammer to the audience. It’s easy to dismiss people based on their impoverished conditions or dismiss them entirely. It takes even greater resolve to solve these problems. God does exist in this part of the film. To serve man in any way possible is bringing about the essence of God. As under God, all men are equal.