Initially, Jennifer Baichwal’s Manufactured Landscapes recalls last year’s Our Daily Bread. A clinical crawl through a gargantuan Chinese factory – with its endless, evenly spaced stations of laborers glued to tedious tasks – hauntingly echoes similar tracking shots Nikolaus Geyrhalter used in his film to explore the lulling, mechanical uniformity of industrial food production. Our Daily Bread discovers otherworldly environments and depersonalized regiments behind the curtain of modern agricultural processes; Manufactured Landscapes investigates those of the entire world.
And since the most significant new player on the global stage at the moment is China, Baichwal wisely follows Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky – famed for his surveyor’s eye ability to bring out the unreality of mines, oil fields, and other landscape-changing undertakings – as he captures in precisely framed compositions the ravages upon urban and rural landscapes a rapidly developing nation has affected through destruction, pollution, waste, and aggressive dominance. Yet when Burtynsky isn’t providing the film’s vision through his work or his example, Manufactured Landscapes falls just short of finding its own voice.
Nevertheless, Manufactured Landscapes contains some remarkable material.
Click here to read the rest of Michael Joshua Rowin’s review of Manufactured Landscapes.