Documentary Presents Junkyards as Mammoth Works of Modern Art
Remember that Keep America Beautiful PSA campaign featuring an Indian wiping away a tear because somebody in a passing car threw a piece of trash out of the window? Well, he’d go absolutely bonkers if he got a load of what’s going on in China, now that the Industrial Revolution is in full bloom in the Orient.
To document the toll that “progress” is taking on the planet, director Jennifer Baichwal carted her camera to a number of dumping grounds around the People’s Republic, capturing in breathtaking detail the fallout being visited upon the region due to the headlong rush to Westernize. With the help of award-winning, stills photographer Edward Burtynsky, she visited everything from recycling junkyards to hollowed-out strip mines to depleted rock quarries to soul-sapping mega-assembly lines and any other sites which might drive home the salient point that there is a steep price to be paid for runaway consumption.
Manufactured Landscapes is a powerful picture primarily because it never proselytizes but simple allows its visually-overwhelmed audience to draw its own conclusions about the unconsidered downside of living beyond our ecological means. For how else might one react except with a combination of awe and guilt, say, to the sight of a narrow path carved through a man-made mountain of discarded tires piled high into the sky?
A timely meditation on one country’s carbon footprints which subtly suggests we all consider redefining the meaning of civilization.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Running time: 80 minutes
Studio: Zeitgeist Films