Manufactured Landscapes
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Manufactured Landscapes

2006, Environment  -   44 Comments
Ratings: 7.70/10 from 23 users.

Manufactured LandscapesManufactured Landscapes is the striking documentary on the world and work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky.

Internationally acclaimed for his large scale photographs of manufactured landscapes - quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams - Burtynsky creates stunningly beautiful art from civilization's materials and debris.

The film follows him through China, as he shoots the evidence and effects of that country's massive industrial revolution.

With breathtaking sequences, such as the opening tracking shot through an almost endless factory, the filmmakers also extend the narratives of Burtynsky’s photographs, allowing us to meditate on our impact on the planet and witness both the epicenters of industrial endeavor and the dumping grounds of its waste.

In the spirit of such environmentally enlightening sleeper-hit as An Inconvenient Truth, Manufactured Landscapes powerfully shifts our consciousness about the world and the way we live in it, without simplistic judgments or reductive resolutions.

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44 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Richard Neva

    Did not understand a word of it so I left it after 10 minutes!

    1. dewflirt

      Morning Richard :) Watched this some time ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Might make better sense if you keep in mind that the film was made by an artist. He's not trying to convey info in the way a documentary maker would. Maybe showing us that the wounds we inflict on our pretty planet are water off a ducks back, that what we do here affects us more than it does the world. When we are gone and nature claims back all the land we have sculpted and rearranged, it might be just as beautiful as it ever was. It's a shame we can't work with that in mind, remember that it doesn't actually belong to us and that when we borrow, we have an absolute responsibility to hand it back in a reasonable state. A little wear and tear is acceptable I think. Careless trampling is plain bad manners. I'm not going to ask you to watch again if it's not your cup of tea, maybe we watch with different expectations. Sometimes it's nice to sit and watch for the beauty of a thing and nothing else, I'm sure you must have spent time staring into and open fire, sighing thoughts into the flames and wafting them up the chimney ? :)

    2. oQ

      Some of the phrases in your comment would have been perfect captions on the doc.

    3. dewflirt

      Thank you oQ :)

  2. kmuz38b

    Reminds me of Koyanisqatsi, Baraka, etc. Translation: Love it.

  3. Lovro Šari? Kora?evi?

    Yes, watch it! Great photography, great man and a great team.
    It makes you want to boycott "made in China" but than you think of where's your keyboard made :( And even if you at least decide to buy clothes from local tailors their fabrics came from China anyway... Isn't that frustrating!??
    But I guess education is a way out too so will share this for sure with my brainwashed passive consumers called friends.

    Also; free Ai Wei Wei !!! ;)

  4. Lovro Šari? Kora?evi?

    Yes, watch it! Great photography, great man and a great team.
    It makes you want to boycott "made in China" but than you think of where's your keyboard made :( And even if you at least decide to buy clothes from local tailors their fabrics came from China anyway... Isn't that frustrating!??
    But I guess education is a way out too so will share this for sure with my brainwashed passive consumers called friends.

    Also; free Ai Wei Wei !!!

  5. Sherman Monro

    Absolutely fabulous photography, video and audio, although at times, music is a little loud and the words are sunk in sound. Also, I wish there was a subtitle for workers words; and the content, quite valid and sad! Thank you, all together, it is a brilliant job. It really provokes a sense of urgency to change our course; otherwise, soon the sudden collapse is inevitable.

    It’s such a challenge to change the mentalities of those who have recently joined the party and have experienced the consumerist culture. Even younger generation is longing to earn more and consume more!
    After industrial revolution, we started to exploit the resources of this planet and leaping forward rather than walking. In turn, we have been changing the landscape and destroying the environment. It is very sad to me to see how has become of China and even more sad is that the rest of its population still is going to join the party.
    The solution is out of reach. Since the only solution is to have all the nations sit at a round table --- not like the one in UN --- and talk about minimizing the exploitation of resources and through innovations which can be materialized by technology and find a way out of this mess. Pulling guns on each other will result in extinction of man on this planet. Those idiots, who think will be safe and survive in the bunkers for years, should think twice.
    It seems we are following “the survival of the fittest” theory but that doesn’t work here since even the fittest will eventually go down with these destructive practices.
    We have learned from science that destroying our environment equals our destruction, yet, we are doing it not because of need but greed.
    We have to sit down and solve this problem with compassion, love and reconnection with our environment, with ourselves. The current way of life has separated us from each other and the nature. We have lost our connections with the Earth!
    However, this is a dream to make everyone to be compassionate and have empathy for other fellow man; therefore, we are doomed to perish from the face of this planet --- not next weekend but much sooner than we think!

  6. RussellB

    Submit to providence willingly, freely. To submit to this is a necessity imposed in nature on all creatures equally.

  7. Robyn318

    We can live for each other--here and now, before it's too late, sympathetically sharing snapshots from inside our still-conscious heads, all 6.7 billion heads containing just as many hypothetical universes, most of them, unfortunately, spinning feverishly with the illusions we've just shattered.

  8. lakhotason

    Or flip that around. Maybe we are here because the universe first imagined us.

  9. magarac

    When i saw these seemingly endless rows of assembling stations in the beginning i could not help but think about their future.
    Once their wages are going to start to raise and will go past the cost of automatisation what will happen to all these people?
    Most of the different tasks that could be seen would be very simply done by machines.

  10. zevolev

    Coming from someone who works manufacturing:
    I didn't really want to come home to watch a bunch of people do what I do everyday - but to the ignorant, this happens in the West too (I mean manufacturing+pollution as a result, not necessarily poor working conditions of course... at least they touched on the subject of land depletion here), just a lot less since we have to pay people more to make stuff here. Environments can be as toxic too (where I work 95% of product we deal with has potential to cause DNA damage, cancer, breathing problems, massive fire, explosions, etc. not to mention this stuff couldn't be more dangerous to environment).

    Unfortunate that me saying that "I'm going to buy solar panels and a bunch of wind generators for an "electric farm", plant trees, buy a Velomobile, energy efficient tiny house": A lot of byproduct was made to create this stuff in the process to begin with. And a lot, still made in China, no matter how hard we as consumers try to buy local or whatever - it's corporations doing the outsourcing and telling us what we need. It's not easy to boycott products that were made in such conditions when the only stores in town are those of which support it to begin with (and take business away from smaller outlets, thus closing them down). Yeah, I'd certainly pay more for goods and services that don't fall apart after the first or second use, or first wash&dry as it were.

    Oh and how silly I have to work in oil or gas related fields so I can retire far, far away from it all... blah, the world is screwed.

    You know after watching the "dirty cities" documentary and watching this, I've come to the conclusion that we really haven't solved our problem with rolling in our own sh*t.

    1. sknb

      I like your comment. I want to know more. I would like to show this documentary to my students, about 1/3 who are factory workers in Massachusetts.

      With your permission I would like to use your comment as part of our class discussion. If you don't want me to I won't.

      Thank you.

    2. zevolev

      Go ahead :)

  11. Alexander

    this may seem exotic for some ppl, but after 9 hours every day in similar conditions i really dont want to watch more factories, thumbs down, doc lacks broader perspective

    1. sknb

      I can understand your viewpoint. For those of us who don't see this world regularly it is a new thing for us. (In the same way seeing where I work would be a new thing for you).

      I would like you to elaborate on your comment, as I am genuinely curious. What perspective is the documentary missing? If you give me permission I would like to use your response as a discussion starter for my class. I teach adults, about 1/3 who are factory workers themselves.

      If you don't want me to, I won't. Thank you very much.

  12. francisco sa

    Humans are creating huge environmental challenges for themselves and the Earth, we solve them or otherwise our instintion as species is required for the future of the planet.

  13. MatarD

    What strikes me is that mass of people/workers accepting the situation. This is a doc centered on China, but there is not much difference elsewhere.

    Here we have the reason why we are failing

  14. Oxley

    The Earth will be fine it has time, it's us Humans that are doomed.

    1. avd420

      I agree, but I don't like your choice of the word "Doomed". Is living, flourishing and finishing life as a species mean doom? I think not, I think it is a natural process that we should be grateful to have been a part of.

    2. Guest

      What if the earth only exist because we say it's there? az

    3. Robyn318

      I ponder that option for our reality quite often. I have noticed that as my mindset changes, quit drinking and smoking for example, my reality changes as well. New avenues of opportunity have opened up and others have closed off because of it, I have developed new friendships and old ones have started to fade. Physicists say that the elements of our reality react to our observing them; maybe our influence goes even farther than that.

    4. Guest

      have you read the little book (known Universe)? It tells a thing or two about that.

    5. Robyn318

      No, not yet. Im reading "The belief instinct' now and my next one is "Where did the towers go".

    6. Guest

      That one is short, you could read it in two morning poo.

    7. Robyn318

      Do you know who wrote it? Ill order it.

    8. Guest

      You can buy the book but the author has put it on the net for free. You can find the link on: "Known Universe:The Most explosive" doc, scroll down the comments and it's there under a couple of critics about it, i copied the link yesterday. The author is the creator of Dilbert the Comics character but the little book has nothing to do with Dilbert.
      Short, sweet, smart and slightly perplexing.

    9. Robyn318

      Interesting little story, it does get you thinking about what you think you know. Julian Barbour must have read this story too. LOL

    10. Robyn318

      That was a great little book, thanks. During the time I was a carpenter/contractor I did a lot of work in the Ashokan Reservoir/Ohayo Mountain area where the town of Woodstock is located, and there is this little bookstore called the Golden Notebook that acted as my Avatar. I would sometimes go in there and walk over to a bookshelf and grab a book without thinking about it, randomly open it to a page and read a sentence or two. Every time I did this, the book was relevant to my concerns or interests at the time; it was uncanny. Other times I would go in and tell the owner that I wanted a book about a certain subject or idea and he would disappear in the back or upstairs for a few minutes and return with a book in hand. Without even looking at the cover of the book, I bought it and it always turned out to be an adventure in personal growth. The first profound experience I ever had doing this was when I grabbed Jane Roberts’ “The Unknown Reality” off the shelf, opened it up and read the words, “you are the unknown reality”. When I started reading it I always had in my mind how that phrase was pertinent and I never saw it anywhere in the body of the book.

    11. Guest

      Here's a little game, i picked a phrase in a book at random:
      When you are utterly disillusioned, when the outer has no more attraction, when you have seen it and found it lacking and now you have come to the point of realizing that there is nothing_ then the quantum leap into the inner.

      Your turn.

    12. batvette

      haha, after 20 hard partyin' years I quit drinking in 2000, never looked back. lost most of my drinking buddies. Life seems a little less fun but I'm aware of every minute of it.
      (last 5 years I was at about 14 drinks a night, 7 beers and 7 shots, about one an hour from the time I got home from work till I passed out around midnight)
      3 of the guys I drank with regularly died, 2 from alcohol related disease, another from heroin overdose.
      I regularly drove intoxicated but that was not a problem for me, some it is.
      A good friend who was a lifelong smoker died in November, she was my best friend, Had a heart attack, definitely tobacco related. She left a 16 year old son, a husband, 2 granddaughters who lived in her home with her single 27 year old daughter. She is missed.
      Glad you quit.

    13. Robyn318

      Glad to hear you quit; sorry about the history.

      I quit a couple of years after I met my wife, we both did (well over 20 years ago); we had to or it wasn’t going to work. I had very few social skills at the time. I was one of those quiet guys who became talkative after a beer or two, funny after another round and an *sshole before the night was over.

      I quit drinking and smoking at the same time because I didn’t want to go through the misery twice and they went hand in hand for me. I absolutely do not miss it. I remember after a full year of abstinence my thinking got clearer, I was way less frustrated over trivial stuff AND if I had ten bucks in my pocket on Monday, there was a real good chance it would still be there on Friday.

      Congratulations on quitting.

    14. ProudinUS

      That was a pretty cool quote ,Az I like that. It just struck me a little funny because my old lady woke up in a smart a$$ mood. I told her I was going to the coffee shop and have a cup of joe, when she ,like the smart a$$ she is, comes off the wall with a "your only getting out because I'm allowing the coffee shop to serve you!" I still am trying to figure her out after all these years.

    15. Oxley

      Thats a little awkward to think about and plus it's not really likely. Maybe the Earth would have different properties without us there to perceive it.
      We could ask these kind of questions all day with little to no real gain.

    16. Guest

      May be the earth is not there because we are not here in physical arrangement, just building blocks we feel are assembled.

    17. Robyn318

      Einstein asked those questions all the time and came up with his theories of relativity.

    18. Oxley

      Nice photos by the way.

  15. Billyo O

    Oh how we take our planet & resources for granted. When do we stop?

  16. drinker69

    We need to build more trees. Next.

  17. Robyn318

    The narrator says he wants to show who we are in relation to our planet. I see us as just another organism that moves elements (nutrients and minerals) from inside the earth to the outside, where it can be readily accessed by other organisms. The land where I live is solid clay, I have dug down 13 feet in spots and hit nothing else but clay. There is an indigenous plant called ‘pigweed’ that has a long tap root, sometimes 6 or 7 feet long, whose purpose is to bring nutrients from that 6 or 7 foot depth to the surface, in the form of leaves and stems, making those nutrients available to other organisms.

    We think that we are ‘special’ in some divine or evolutionary way; but the truth is we are just another ‘bug’ on the planet, whose purpose is to recycle the resources, turn the soil, amass large quantities of minerals and ‘building’ elements from one area to another like the dinosaur era did with coal and oil, to be used by the next generation of occupants.

    We are a petri dish of bacteria left to our own devices, that in the beginning thrive on the resources, then as its waste overpowers the environment, becomes sickly and eventually dies off. This video is an eloquent representation of the same process that bacteria go through; only we can see it at eye level.

    As I watched this video I couldn’t help but see mankind as a ‘super-organism’ whose purpose is to take raw materials, refine or combine them and convert them into more complex products, no different in fact than the plants, coral, parrot fish and volcanoes have done for millions of years.

  18. Mercenarry ForHire

    Nothing Lasts forever.

  19. Matt Kukowski

    Hard to say if this is Progress or not. Either way the Sun will still rise and set with the Eons to come. I worry about the water and the air pollution heavily. Beautiful photography.

    Watching how our human minds love to take nature and arrange it into strait lines and boxes if fascinating at the same time troubling.

    Anyone with a spirit knows what I am talking about.

    I think eventually Humans need to strike a balance between Nature (trees, mosses, rivers and all that wiggles with Buildings, streets, cars and all that are strait lines)... if we turn the world into strait lines it is game over for life.

  20. dewflirt

    All the boring aspects of factory work, uniforms, same task day in day out, rhythms of the machinery and the blank faces. Somehow they become quite soothing when you see other people doing it, like rain hitting windows. There is a disused quarry in my home town that flooded and is now a nature reserve. You only see about a 3rd of it, the rest of it and the equipment is hidden below 250feet of water. I wonder what the mines will be like when they're done with, when nature start sneaking back in. Some of them were almost beautiful. Hadn't realized just how much work was still done by hand, I guess I assumed that most of it would be automated now. Humans must be cheaper.