Waste Land

Scanning through Netflix, I’m not normally one to be drawn in by heartwarming tales about the human condition, much preferring vapid romantic comedies, but when a film has 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I tend to sit up and take notice despite my cynical core.

“Waste Land” is an award winning documentary by director Lucy Walker – An uplifting feature documentary highlighting the transformative power of art and the beauty of the human spirit. Top-selling contemporary artist Vik Muniz takes us on an emotional journey from Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, to the heights of international art stardom. Vik collaborates with the brilliant catadores, pickers of recyclable materials, true Shakespearean characters who live and work in the garbage quoting Machiavelli and showing us how to recycle ourselves.”

Fine, it was a great flick.

As the synopsis above alludes, Vik Muniz travels to the world’s largest landfill to examine the lives of the people who spend their days picking materials from the rubble.  Who are they? Where do they live? How do they live?

The artist photographs his encounters, projects these images onto the floor of a warehouse, and then, with the help of the pickers, transforms them into works of art assembled from the discarded materials.

OK. At this point in the film, I had to pause Netflix to see how much time was remaining. He wouldn’t spend more than half of the movie getting to know the deep inner workings of these people, only to take photographs and leave, right?



I have already spoiled enough, so you’ll just have to watch the film.

I will say that I didn’t know much about Vik Muniz other than vaguely remembering his diamond portraits:

 (Liz Taylor)

But after watching the film, he appears to be the perfect artist with the perfect heart and intention to carry out such an extraordinary project.

I loved one particular excerpt where he talks about money and happiness:

Waste Land is currently on Netflix Instant Streaming, so be sure to check it out next time you can steal a few minutes on the couch.

“The really magical things are the ones that happen right in front of you. A lot of the time you keep looking for beauty, but it is already there. And if you look with a bit more intention, you see it.”

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