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Waste Land (2010)



Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 68
Fresh: 68 | Rotten: 0

Waste Land begins with an eco-friendly premise, but quickly transforms into an uplifting portrait of the power of art and the dignity of the human spirit.


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 18
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 0

Waste Land begins with an eco-friendly premise, but quickly transforms into an uplifting portrait of the power of art and the dignity of the human spirit.



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Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 7,039

My Rating

Movie Info

Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of "catadores" -- or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz's initial objective was to "paint" the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate

Mar 15, 2011


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All Critics (68) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (68) | Rotten (0) | DVD (1)

I do not mean to make their lives seem easy or pleasant. It is miserable work, even after they grow accustomed to the smell. But it is useful work, and I have been thinking much about the happiness to be found by work that is honest and valuable.

February 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It shows us how artists find ideas and concepts for their work from the most unlikely sources, and it demonstrates the power of art to spark curiosity and cultural awareness in even the poorest, most underprivileged people.

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While we await the definitive documentary about the glut of garbage, "Waste Land" reduces this global catastrophe to touchingly human scale.

December 10, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's sheer pleasure watching Muniz work -- seeing him seized by mad impulses of delight.

December 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Waste Land" is a testament that things can go from good to bad in an instant. But they can also improve just as quickly.

December 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's not a very good title, Waste Land - this isn't a bleak film, at all - but just about everything else in Lucy Walker's documentary works, and illuminates.

December 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This conversion of garbage into humanitarian aid is just the beginning. Practical charity gives way to life-changing intimacy.

June 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Image

The breadth of gratitude these catadores feel towards Muniz and the life-experience they undertake makes for an intelligent, emotional movie.

November 30, 2011 Full Review Source:

Waste Land is a real treasure, the sort of heartwarming and life affirming study of people, lacking in both sentimentality and cynicism, that uplifts the audience and elevates the art form

August 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinemania

Waste Land fuses the design concepts behind two of the most high-profile animations of recent years, Rio and the Oscar-winning Wall-E, into an essay about how hard some people are prepared to work.

April 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post

The result is a film that works on multiple levels, casting light on a worldwide problem while delivering a big jolt of human hope.

March 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

Muniz is a gifted, modest and altogether delightful man, and his project is both aesthetically fascinating and philosophically stimulating.

February 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

It's inspiring, humbling and beautifully made.

February 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

A well-made and often uplifting film that refuses to get angry yet still manages to point out that things aren't as they should be for a great many.

February 25, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

More self-conscious, subtle exploration than the dubious bleeding-heart PR stunt implied by its premise.

February 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Film4

Well made and impressively structured, this is a heartwarming, genuinely inspirational and ultimately deeply moving film that has deservedly picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary.

February 25, 2011 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

The glimpses of favela life will make you thank your lucky stars you weren't born there.

February 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Independent

Perhaps not life-changing but certainly life-affirming.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

This is undoubtedly a bold raid into an unknown territory - both geographic and conceptual - that the prosperous classes prefer not to think about.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

Walker finds inspiration and strange beauty in the squalor.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

As in her memorable Blindsight, in which sightless climbers took on Everest, Walker celebrates the indomitability of the human spirit.

February 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

A remarkable testament to working class lives and the unifying power of art, Waste Land is a rare thing - a film that makes you proud to be human.

February 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

Compelling and vivid, it's another fine piece of work from an up-and-coming talent.

February 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A reminder of humanity's ability to transcend its surroundings through art or just plain optimism.

February 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Walker's documentary is moving, life-affirming and challenges what you think you might know about these people who pick through the rubbish.

February 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

Audience Reviews for Waste Land

It's easy to say that Vik Muniz benefited more so than others with the success of this film but I genuinely believe his heart was in the right place and he really did set out to tell a story and to help others out. In the end, the people who he did choose did work for what they achieved, although shame about the less charismatic pickers who weren't chosen. They do discuss the way they are changing peoples lives in the film and I think they came to the right conclusion. This is a great story about a subject the world wouldn't otherwise know about, Jardim Gramacho is now closed but in its place an educational centre has now been built all from the money raised from this film. It's win win all round and if you want feel good, this is the film for you!
September 17, 2013

Super Reviewer

What happens in the world's largest trash city will transform you.


A touching documentary that truely depicts a great artist and humanitarian. I loved the movie from start to end and it moved me deeply.

Overall I highly recommend everyone to watch this movie, its amazing, and beautiful! Watch it!

Zumbi: "We have to think about the future because I don't want my son to be a picker. Although if he is, I'd be very proud... But I'd rather he be a lawyer to represent the pickers, you know."
July 26, 2011

Super Reviewer

A powerful and extremely moving documentary that delves into the creative process of an artist and shows how art can really change people. The most fascinating though about this involving real story is to see the deep and unexpected relationship that grows between the artist and the people that are the subject of his unlike creation.
April 14, 2011

Super Reviewer

Waste Land is a documentary about the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and his "social work" with workers from the garbage dump Jardim Gramacho. All that poverty is heartbreaking and outrageous in a country with absurd social differences where a few people have a monthly wage that could save lot of families. At the end of the film I could only think how unfair the situation is - Muniz had an amazing and beautiful gesture, but the real changes in the community and their lives were minimal - and felt like that Boris's quote*:

"But what do you do? You read about some massacre in Darfur or some school bus gets blown up, and you go "Oh my God, the horror," and then you turn the page and finish your eggs from the free range chickens. Because what can you do? It's overwhelming!".

Because, what can we do? As the Brazilian filmmaker João Moreira Salles says, it would be an illusion to think that a documentary can change the world and its characters. Vik Muniz did his part and it must be enough.

Other films had already explored this theme like Ilha das Flores (Isle of Flowers, by Jorge Furtado) and Estamira (directed by Macros Prado), both stronger than Waste Land**. This documentary is important to both social and artistic worlds, but it's quite normal as a film. The soundtrack, composed by Mody, sounds superficial and too much melodramatic sometimes. The same happens to some scenes like the one where Vik Muniz, alone in his place, looks to the world globe in his hands with a desolate expression. It's one of those poor scenes where we can almost listen the director saying: take the globe in your hands, look at it, make a sad face, you miss those people, yes, like that, good, that's it . Cut.

* Whatever Works, by Woody Allen.
**There's also the documentary Boca de Lixo, directed by Edurado Coutinho, that I haven't seen yet.

February 6, 2011

Super Reviewer

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