Manufactured Landscapes (2007)
Jennifer Baichwal follows the much acclaimed Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky while he travels the globe shooting landscapes transformed through commercial recycling, manufacturing and industrial production. The film not only captures the astonishing transformations in the landscape but also examines the social repercussions of these changes.
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Critic Reviews for Manufactured Landscapes
What the film does well is to make us part of the problem: After all we demand the lowest prices in everything we buy and that probably means it was made in China.
Canadian fine art photographer Edward Burtynsky shoots the recycling dumps, superfactories, vast quarries and shipyards, capturing visual beauty in the ecological devastation.
Feels constrained and rather dutiful, no matter how passionate these people are about what they're observing.
Burtynsky calls for "a whole new way of thinking" about the world's economy and ecology, though he never says what's wrong with the old way.
The movie works best traveling from the eye straight to the conscience.
Again and again, Baichwal tapers passages of her film toward resolution in the form of a finished picture by Burtynsky, telescoping her vision and his.
There is nothing wrong with Baichwal's camerawork, with a fascinating opening eight-minute shot of it roaming across a Chinese factory floor, particularly stunning - but everything lacks depth.
Each of Burtynsky's subjects is impressive in its scale, but terrifying in its ecological impact.
Burtynsky avoids any political content to his work, but it's hard not to feel anxious and sad at the spectacle of the rapid industrialization and urbanization of the world's most populous nation.
My first question: What kind of nefarious events had to occur so that I could purchase the computer with which I write this review?
Like Burtynsky's pictures, captures images that are at once awesome, humbling, and rather terrifying.
I got the streamlined version of a minimalist modern art piece, when what I wanted was an old-fashioned documentary.
Documentarian Jennifer Baichwal's film finds a way to comment on ecological and environmental destruction without bludgeoning audiences with heavy-handed messages. There is a mesmerizing quality to the film.
Burtynsky's photos are stunning (some of his images of dumps resemble Jackson Pollack's drip art), but what's most interesting about Landscapes is the tension between his work and the filmmaking.
Baichwal just tries to create a cinematic equivalent of Burtynsky's still images rather than a documentary on the artistic process of Burtynsky himself. So the end result is a film that would be better as a coffee table book.
Audience Reviews for Manufactured Landscapes
One of the better documentaries I have seen. It manages to be both socially relevant and provogative, and also very artistic. That seems like quite an accomblishment to me. It did drag on a bit though.More
Long, with little insight into either the photographer or his subjects. A slide-show gallery tour of his work, suited more for a museum installation than a feature-length film.
Regardless, the images are as captivating as any you'll see short of the "koyaaniquatsi" trilogy... buy a book to look at his photos... the movie isn't neccessary.
"Manufactured Landscapes" is a moderately interesting documentary about Edward Burtynsky who specializes in taking photographs of industry and manufacturing in an attempt to warn against the environmental depletion of the planet. The film itself is mainly focused on China which is in the process of transforming itself from an agrarian society to an industrial power. There are consequences to this course of action, especially in the displacement of the population and increased pollution.
As urgent as "Manufactured Landscapes" might try to be, there is little here that we have not seen before.(The exception being the shipwreck beach in Bangladesh which itself could have been the setting for an entire documentary.) Yes, that's a truly awesome trackintg shot that opens the movie but it does little to capture the scale of a factory(and I've been in buildings that large, anyway) and actually becomes a game of seeing which workers notice the camera. Likewise, there have been other films that have covered the Three Gorges Dam in greater detail.
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