In the spirit of such environmentally enlightening hits as AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH and RIVERS AND TIDES, MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES powerfully shifts our consciousness about the world and the way we live in it.
The film follows Internationally acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky whose large-scale photographs of manufactured landscapes quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams create stunningly beautiful art from civilization s materials and debris. The film follows him through China, as he shoots the evidence and effects of that country s massive industrial revolution. Burtynsky s photographs allow us to meditate on our impact on the planet and witness both the epicenters of industrial endeavor and the dumping grounds of its waste.
works triple-time as a documentary portrait, a tone poem, and a work of protest. The title comes from Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky's 2003 book of the same name. His large-scale images depict the ways industrialization has transformed the environment. Locations include quarries, slag heaps, and dumping grounds. Director Jennifer Baichwal (The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia
) introduces photographs focusing on China and Bangladesh, and then presents Burtynsky in the process of creating them. He adds a few words here and there, but Baichwal mostly lets the people behind his prints--and the devastation that surrounds them--do the talking. Of the sites they visit, China's monumental Three Gorges Dam is the most impressive... and depressing. At the same time the construction has created much-needed jobs, the world's largest engineering project has also displaced 13 cities of over 1.3 million people. To paraphrase Burtynsky, Baichwal's film "searches for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion." With its ominous soundtrack and stately pace--cinematographer Peter Mettler's opening pan through a vast manufacturing plant lasts eight minutes--Manufactured Landscapes
is about as far from conventional as a non-fiction film can get. Like Koyanisqaatsi
, Rivers and Tides
, and Darwin's Nightmare
, Baichwal leaves the charts and graphs behind to make one irrefutable point: We're in trouble. Extra features, like deleted scenes (with commentary by Baichwal) and an extensive slide gallery (with commentary by Burtynsky) add welcome context. --Kathleen C. Fennessy