Thursday, November 16, 2006

Manufactured Landscapes: "Globalisation and the Environment"

A perfect post for this blog. Hat-tip to Treehugger for the link to a new Canadian film called "Manufactured Landscapes - a feature documentary by Jennifer Baichwal".

Some of the pictures are breathtaking - the sheer size of the industrial development in China has to be seen to be believed.

MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES is a feature length documentary on the world and work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky makes large-scale photographs of ‘manufactured landscapes’ – quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines, dams. He photographs civilization’s materials and debris, but in a way people describe as “stunning” or “beautiful,” and so raises all kinds of questions about ethics and aesthetics without trying to easily answer them.

The film follows Burtynsky to China as he travels the country photographing the evidence and effects of that country’s massive industrial revolution. Sites such as the Three Gorges Dam, which is bigger by 50% than any other dam in the world and displaced over a million people, factory floors over a kilometre long, and the breathtaking scale of Shanghai’s urban renewal are subjects for his lens and our motion picture camera.

Shot in Super-16mm film, Manufactured Landscapes extends the narrative streams of Burtynsky’s photographs, allowing us to meditate on our profound impact on the planet and witness both the epicentres of industrial endeavour and the dumping grounds of its waste. What makes the photographs so powerful is his refusal in them to be didactic. We are all implicated here, they tell us: there are no easy answers. The film continues this approach of presenting complexity, without trying to reach simplistic judgements or reductive resolutions. In the process, it tries to shift our consciousness about the world and the way we live in it.

Check out the trailer. Not sure if this film will get a UK release but someone should try.

This is what treehugger had to say about the film, a sentiment that relates to my previous post on the problem of the West dictating to developing countries to "clean up" when such a large percentage of the population still lives below the poverty line.
It is an intensely political movie and you come out shocked to the core. You wonder what the point is in doing anything to mitigate climate change when you see those piles of coal, those endless seas of high-rises with an air conditioner in every window.

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