Manufactured Landscapes (2006)
★★ / ★★★★
Director Jennifer Baichwal focuses her documentary on Edward Burtynsky’s photography regarding landscapes and connects it with how we continue to neglect our environment as we thrust ourselves into industrialization and globalization. This documentary is different from all the others I’ve seen because it has such an impersonal feeling to it. The narration is minimal so the film lets the images do the talking and it’s up to the audiences to direct themselves on what to think and feel. I have no problem with the issues that the movie is trying to tackle because I do agree that we treat the Earth as secondary instead of taking care of it for future generations. I also agree that it’s horrible that the poor are the ones affected by health hazards because of the mountains of poisonous metals that seem to go on for miles (we dump our computer parts in China–a fact that I didn’t know about). My main problem for giving the movie a mediocre rating is its style. At first I thought it was great: the movie started off with no dialogue as it shows rows upon rows of people working with their hands and with machines. The images are haunting, shocking yet very real all rolled into one. However, pretty much the whole movie is like that and it got redundant. In a nutshell, I got annoyed with the way it repeated itself. It tries to hammer the fact that we’re not taking care of the planet and that people are living in egregious conditions in China. I kept waiting for the moment when the picture finally took itself to the next level but it never did. A lot of critics liked this movie and I can understand why; it was informative and I learned from it. But it was one-dimensional because it didn’t introduce anything regarding groups of people who try to inform others to stop killing our Earth. It didn’t feel finished and it didn’t go full circle regarding its topic; in fact, it got stuck in one place and it seemed to not know what to do with itself. It’s unfortunate because it featured beautiful photographs from Burtynsky. With a little bit more editing and perhaps adding more scenes to elevate the concepts it tried to highlight, maybe I would have liked it a lot more. It certainly had potential but I can’t quite recommend it because it will most likely put people to sleep somewhere in the middle.