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Movie Review: Manufactured Landscapes

Alternate Title: Rape the Land: Buy More Crap

Story: What do you get when three artists with a vision get together to document what humankind has done to this planet? In this case it is both a beautiful demonstration of how art can be a powerful statement and at the same time be aesthetically mesmerizing.

Documentarian Jennifer Baichwal directs Toronto based still photographer Edward Burtynsky. His career has led him towards the vision of shooting decaying landscapes caused by our need to scour the earth for its precious minerals, coal and oil to keep the industrial world moving and conspicuously consuming. There is one magical scene that will have you swearing off ever using an iron again. Cinematographer Peter Mettler rounds out the trio with his soaring sweeps of this decaying planet.

Most of the film takes place is China where we send our recyclables such as e-waste, heavy metals and toxic parts. China in turn disassembles these non-usables, reconfigures it all and sends us back more crap to buy. The karmic irony is that we send them poison and they repackage it and send the poison back to us in another form.

The monumental holes, gashes and patterns in the earth that is being ravaged is visually abstract when viewed as still photos. The politics in the film are implied. You get from it whatever you can but there is no way you can leave the theater without feeling something - and it is not a good feeling. You also do not want to buy anymore crap.

Acting: It is a documentary - not applicable.

Predilection: I like documentaries and I like art.

Blatant Product Placement: There were many products being assembled in the massive Chinese factories but for the most part you could not tell which parts were being assembled for what product.

Soundtrack: Very moving.

Opening Titles: There is an eight minute tracking shot filmed in a factory that is a thing of abstract beauty.

Visual Art: Sadly, much of what we see is beautiful but deadly.

Theater Audience: Six men and us.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: Watching the Chinese and Bangladesh workers toil without any protective gear in these toxic pools is very squirmy indeed.

Drift Factor: I was riveted throughout.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Perhaps

Soap Box: See above statement about karmic toxins.

Big Screen or Rental: Hope you can find this on the big screen because the effect will be more powerful.

Length: 90 minutes.