Wasteland, By Lucy Walker Essay

Wasteland, By Lucy Walker Essay

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It seems as though it’s a natural reaction when people, seeing other people in need of something, help those around them. That help may pertain to the people in the helper’s community, or the helper may be doing good deeds in another part of the world. In instances where the helper is not part of a relief organization, such as the Red Cross, their help can either be viewed as an intrusion or as being beneficial. In the film Wasteland, directed by Lucy Walker, Vik Muniz goes into Jardim Gramacho with the sole intention of photographing the catadores and using the images as his muse, but by the end of the film, it is easy to see that Muniz’s presence changed the catadores in ways no one could have imagined.
The first notable change viewers encounter reveals itself as the optimism the catadores gain from Muniz’s presence. These people who pick through the landfill severely lack optimism at the beginning of the film, but Muniz’s optimism shines through right off the bat. Even before he ever arrives at Jardim Gramacho, Muniz feels optimistic that he will find what he needs in order to complete his project. When Muniz begins snapping pictures of a select few of the catadores, one of the women, Isis, confesses that it is awful working at Jardim Gramacho, that she had no future there (Wasteland). Isis has no optimism at that point. She doesn’t believe that she can get out of her situation. She doesn’t believe that the crazy man with the camera will gift her with something as grand as a different outlook on her life.
The catadores are shocked, yet flattered, that Muniz would want to take pictures of them. It had to have been strange that they were being noticed, that someone had an interest in the pickers of Jardim Gramacho. For someon...


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...is crew went into the Brazilian landfill of Jardim Gramacho in order to photograph the catadores. Prior to his arrival, Muniz couldn’t have imagined how his and his crew’s intrusion could change the people around them. Whether that change be in how the catadores now have a sense of self-worth, how they now have an optimism that was missing before, or how the Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho now has more recognition, Muniz helped a change to occur in the catadores. Muniz may have only went for self-gain in the beginning, but he saw that the catadores were in need of something and he assisted in filling that need. The catadores never viewed Muniz and his crew being at Jardim Gramacho as an intrusion. The end of the film is even dedicated to showing how Muniz helped changes to occur. Wasteland stands as a phenomenal example of people helping people.

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