A staggering film that's starting point was the work of photographer Edward Burtysnky and his interest in the changing landscapes of the planet due to industrialization, economy and capitalization. The scope and size of these changing landscapes is sobering at best and terrifying at worse as we see the impact such projects (ie: 3 gorges dam) have on the planet. Over a decade later the film has not dated a bit.
Over the years, I've grown leery of the didactic nature of the documentary genre. What sets this piece apart is that both the photographer and the filmmaker have made a conscious effort not to politicize their subjects, while recognizing the inevitable subjectivity of the framed image. While I agree somewhat that the film could have worked without Burtynsky's narrative, it was minimal and at times informative.
I actually didn't care much for Burtynsky speaking parts, which actually takes the concentration out of the viewer. Besides, the movie was quite self explanatory in its depiction of the transfiguration of natural landscapes and the creation of artificial ones by men
At the purely photographic and cinematic level this film is astounding. The China scenes in particular capturing the grand industrial scope that man has forged along with the redundant and tedious human processes that humans continue to carry out in these behemoths. The commentary is forgettable, but the images and shots persists. The opening tracking is especially breath taking.
Burtynsky claims objectivity; I find it hard not to be repulsed by his visions of our poisoned, overprocessed world. Man/Land often aims to replicate the eye of a gallery viewer and that's where it's most overwrought and tedious. Ultimately there's lots to enjoy but not much more "experience" than you'd get in a coffee table book. For a more engagingly cinematic vision from the same visualist, try "Watermark".
Beautiful moving pictures capturing how industrialized capitalism has taken over the landscape of our planet. So real that it feels surreal; modern day, but appears eerily dystopian. This was captivating in the most claustrophobic, anxious way.