'Manufactured Landscapes': The Pictures Say It All

Friday, July 13, 2007

Without browbeating, hectoring, lecturing or sermonizing, "Manufactured Landscapes" makes an inelegant point elegantly. The point: Humanity is altering the landscape drastically and by implication irrevocably.

Director Jennifer Baichwal focuses on Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, who travels the world documenting -- artistically rather than journalistically -- various man-made blights. She uses as her time peg, her "now," a photo exhibit, and she flashes between the photos he took and the film she took of him taking the photos. Wonders and horrors are pictured: vast drainages coagulated with fiery liquid, looking like World War I warscapes; bleak beaches where chunks of deconstructed ship lie atilt and rotting in the bright Bangladeshi sun (memo to self: You don't want to change careers and go into ship breaking), even the interior of a giant Chinese factory that answers the eternal question "Where do irons come from?"

It's all the more powerful for being silent in its accusation.

-- Stephen Hunter

Manufactured Landscapes Unrated, 90 minutes Contains no objectionable material except a raped planet. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

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