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Manufactured Landscapes

Jennifer Baichwal


Manufactured Landscapes
Directed by: Jennifer Baichwal
(Zeitgeist Films)
In his renowned portraits of industrial sites, Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky highlights how profoundly human action and industrialization have altered the natural landscape. Today's world, Burtynsky points out, is largely man-made. In her Genie-winning documentary Manufactured Landscapes, Jennifer Baichwal set out to translate Burtynsky's photographs into a new medium. The director followed the photographer during a shoot in rapidly industrializing China; her film uses Burtynsky photos, footage filmed in China and Burtynsky's own words to express his work and ideas cinematically. But the film feels unnecessary. Manufactured Landscapes is visually interesting, but Baichwal often fails to provide background information. Viewers are shown beautiful shots of turbines and coalfields, but aren't always told why they're seeing them. One of the DVD's extras is a slideshow of Burtynsky's photographs, accompanied by extensive commentary from the photographer. The slideshow ends up being more informative than the film. It's a shame—had Baichwal told us more about the photos and the man who created them, Manufactured Landscapes would have been excellent. Right now, it's an often boring showcase for some amazing pictures and footage.
—Lindsay McCarney

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