[i]Manufactured Landscape[/i] is the perfect example of a film without a voice. In it, we see China through the eyes of a prominent photographer, who scours the world of Chinese labor and manufacturing to take unusually gorgeous images of degradated landscapes and scenery reflecting the results of mass urban consumption and development. We get a taste for the monotony of working in a Chinese manufacturing plant, beginning with a near 10 minute pan across a seemingly never ending line of factory workers and assemblymen, all tirelessy testing comming household products one by one, presumably all day long. While the images themselves are interesting and reflect our own limited understanding of the effects of contemporary progress in an overpopulated environment, the film makes a point of never taking a stance on anything depicted in it. Artistically, the motives of making such a film are muddied because the director and photographer seem so ambivalent as to the subject they're presenting. A film like this could serve as either a broad social commentary or a detached observational piece that simply presents the truth and lets people decide on their own what to think. A commentary it's not, and as a categorical film, it lacks power because what we are seeing are images that are disturbing and haunting, but are rendered breathtakingly beautiful by the photographer, thus undermining any opnionated response to them. Some of the sequences reminded me of [i]Koyaanisqatsi[/i], from the the fluid sweeps across industrial landscapes to the mosaics of trash and melted metal, and I would bet that the film would be more effective if it were just images, and nothing more. Instead, the film's tone is interrupted several times by the photographer's narration, which is delivered Al Gore-style in front of a large college crowd as he's presenting his photographs on a projector. Nothing he has to say is of very much consequence, (as I said his artistic take on the content of his imagery is virtually nil), and he provides little context as to what we are seeing. Throughout the film, we rarely know where we are or who is involved in any of the sequences. I get the feeling that this man is more interested in taking a great photo than he is about what he's presenting in the photo. The result is a film with mixed messages that leaves me more perplexed than inquisitive, more lethargic than impassioned.