Manufactured Landscapes



IMDb Rating 7.3 10 2898

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
December 14, 2021 at 09:33 PM


793.3 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 26 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by SnoopyStyle 6 / 10

Fascinating pictures and some stories behind the pictures

Documentary director Jennifer Baichwal follows Edward Burtynsky as he photographs the industrial complex with an eye towards its vast otherworldly beauty. He films giant Chinese factories, the beautiful and deadly e-recycling, taking apart ships in Bangladesh, the Three Gorges Dam, the massive mounts of material that China accumulates, and various man-made environments.

There is a real beauty with the pictures that he takes. The movie works best when it tells the story behind the pictures. The e-recycling bit is shocking. The ship recycling is awe-inspiring. The Chinese factories are fascinating because the infrastructure is so gigantic for things that are as simple as little grommets or making something as simple as a clothes iron. This is worthwhile to watch once but it does feel repetitive at times.

Reviewed by Buddy-51 7 / 10

Making beauty out of the mundane

Edward Burtynsky is a Canadian photographer who makes art out of the least "artful" objects imaginable. Everyday items such as crates, boxes, metal containers, etc. - items which most of us perceive as utilitarian at best and dismiss as being utterly without aesthetic merit - are instead converted into glorious objects d'art by Burtynsky's camera. He achieves this result by focusing on the recurring colors and geometric patterns that are apparently ever present in the industrialized world - for those perceptive enough to spot them, that is. Even heaps of compacted trash can become objects of beauty when seen through Burtynsky's lens (but didn't we already know that from "Wall-E"?). He is particularly interested in photographing areas like mines and shipyards where Man has already made incursions into nature - which may explain why at times even the people in his pictures (i.e. the workers in those places), with their uniform clothing and robotic movements, become part of the industrial landscape.

"Manufactured Landscapes," a documentary about Burtynsky's work, has much of the feel of a "Koyaanisqatsi" about it as it dazzles us with its richly variegated kaleidoscope of images and patterns. Indeed, director Jennifer Baichwal and cinematographer Peter Mettler capture the essence of the original photos in purely cinematic terms, as their own camera records Burtynsky and his assistant running photo shoots at a factory in China, a dockyard in Bangladesh, and the construction site at the massive Three Rivers Gorge Dam project in China. With their fluid camera-work, the filmmakers match point-for-point the beauty of Burtynsky's images. In fact, the movie opens with a stunning eight-minute-long tracking shot of a Chinese factory in which hundreds of similarly dressed workers toil away in perfectly symmetrical and color-coordinated rows.

The movie does less well when Burtynsky gets around to articulating the "themes" of his work, which, quite frankly, come out sounding confused, contradictory and decidedly half-baked at best. But it is as a purely aesthetic experience, highlighting image and form, that "Manufactured Landscapes" resonates most. In the case of Burtynsky, perhaps, a picture really IS worth a thousand words.

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 7 / 10

Wasted landscapes, and in part a wasted opportunity

This is a documentary that came out of the splendid work of a Canadian landscape photographer whose interest has long been in the ravages left on earth by the excavations or buildings of man. It begins with a vast factory complex crammed with people making a great variety of little things, parts of high-tech equipment presumably; it isn't really made very clear. The emphasis is on how big the place is and how many people are there and how they're herded around outside in little yellow jackets. The film also shows the photographer working on a tall structure to do a still of the array of these people outside the factory, and talking with his crew as he does so. This is a world of relentless industrialization. It's a relief at least to know these soulless images aren't going to be presented without a human voice, as is the case in Nikolaus Geyrhalter's gleefully cold documentary about the food industry, 'Our Daily Bread.' 'Manufactured Landscapes' contains images of people scavenging e-waste and a town (many towns, really) being wiped out by the biggest dam ever, with a single plangent trademark shot of a little girl in the rubble of her own neighborhood eating out of a bowl using a pair of chopsticks almost bigger than she is. Some of these scenes, the ones with miserably underpaid workers slaving in dangerous and toxic places, might have been shot memorably by the premier engagé photographer Sebastião Salgado. But this photographer isn't as interested in seeing people up close. His orientation places him somewhere in between Salgado and the cold, neutral modern landscape photographs of Lewis Baltz.

All this happens in China, of course, though there is earlier footage in black and white of the photographer working around a large shipbuilding site in Bangladesh. It is backed up by music in a New Age industrial style that is alternately soothing and oppressive. There are a good many stills of the photographer's work--or were some of them made by the film crew? It isn't made clear.

Edward Burtynsky is the name of the photographer. We see people wandering through exhibitions of his beautiful work-- big dramatic prints of carefully composed view camera color images with a handsome glow. The irony is that Burtynsky makes such unique and glorious pictures of places that are essentially blighted, and to the ordinary eye are dispiriting and boring. He admits himself that he takes no political stand. When we are able to compare his images with those caught by the roaming eye of the film's cinematographer Peter Mettler, Burtynsky's work almost amounts to a kind of glorification, and hence falsification. But he is showing us places that, if we look closely, reveal their full dark story of ravage and neglect no matter how finely crafted the photographs of them may be.

Logically, but not entirely fortunately, it is Burtynsky whose voice-overs narrate most of the film as it ranges over various sites. Burtynsky's "epiphanies" may have inspired his decades of fine work, but they amount to nothing but truisms about how we're changing the planet irreparably; are dependent on oil, which will run out; that China has come into the game of massive industrialization late, and so may burn out early with the depletion of fossil fuel. The interest of 'Manufactured Landscapes' would be much greater if there were perceptive new ideas to accompany it. The reasons for watching it are two: to see glimpses of Burtynsky's work and the raw materials, the spaces he visits and chronicles so beautifully; and to observe scenes from the vast, awesome, daunting, and rather horrifying industrialization of modern China.

Because of the limitations of the narration, the idea of the title 'Manufactured Landscapes' feels insufficiently developed. It even seems a misnomer. New landscapes they are, but they are the byproduct of manufacturing rather than "manufactured." 'Landscapes of Waste' or 'Wasted Landscapes' might be better titles. There is much room left by this documentary for more intellectually searching work on film about this intriguing subject; and those who want to know more about Edward Burtynsky might do better to peruse his books or exhibitions.

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