Manufactured Landscapes

Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    Burtynsky's keen sense of color, pattern and composition are obvious from his work, but equally acute are his thoughts on how he as an artist as well as an inhabitant of the planet fits into the larger scheme of things.
  2. Jennifer Baichwal's gorgeous documentary Manufactured Landscapes amplifies the powerful work of Edward Burtynsky, a Canadian artist who specializes in large-scale photographs of terrain transformed by civilization into rivers and tides of industrial ugliness.
  3. 100
    Manufactured Landscapes may tell you more about how the 21st century world actually works than you really want to know, but it's a heartbreaking, beautiful, awful and awesome film.
  4. An eloquent ecological warning.
  5. Leaves its audience with many troubling questions. Among them: Should a film console us with its own brilliance when it aims to discomfit us with its content?
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    80
    This landmark glimpse into China's modern-day industrial revolution becomes something more -- a profound, open-ended meditation on man's physical impact on his environment.
  7. 80
    Nothing illustrates the monstrosity of globalized commerce more vividly than the lateral tracking shot that opens Jennifer Baichwal's mesmerizing documentary Manufactured Landscapes.
  8. Manufactured Landscapes makes an inelegant point elegantly. The point: Humanity is altering the landscape drastically and by implication irrevocably.
  9. 75
    Burtynsky doesn't preach. He's content to let viewers make up their own minds from his eye-opening and eye-pleasing images.
  10. 70
    Slow in places, but the feeling of foreboding you’ll take away from it is undeniable.
  11. The result is a highly unusual viewing experience that stimulates the senses and the conscience simultaneously.
  12. Absorbing if unsettling documentary.
  13. 70
    The same virtue doesn't apply to his commentary, which is too general to rise above the pedestrian; the movie works best traveling from the eye straight to the conscience.
  14. 67
    What's left off the table is a meaningful examination of environmental artists' responsibility to the environment they depict, and the question of whether all truly great art leaves behind a little toxic waste of its own.
  15. Baichwal is comfortable with those moral and aesthetic ambiguities as well, and, as a result, she’s created a visual poem of devastation that makes one question one’s entire relationship to the world.
  16. Feels constrained and rather dutiful, no matter how passionate these people are about what they're observing.

Awards & Rankings

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 2 out of 3
  1. photon
    Jul 8, 2007
    3
    This movie has some arresting images and interesting moments when people associated with gargantuan dams and factories are interviewed. But This movie has some arresting images and interesting moments when people associated with gargantuan dams and factories are interviewed. But it takes a strangely fawning attitude toward the photographer Edward Burtynsky. We see Burtynsky looking remarkably Al Gore-like, pacing on a stage somewhere, intoning his thoughts on whatever; we see Burtynsky visitng factories and salvage operations and taking pictures. I recognize that Burtynsky has taken some good photographs of unorthodox subjects, finding an eerie beauty in industrial wastelands. But the photographer's grandstanding is unbecoming and as a subject he is uninteresting -- or perhaps the film, taking it for granted that viewers already view Burtynsky as a hero, feels that establishing the man's credentials rather than simply burnishing them is a waste of time. I have nothing at all against Burtynsky, but he isn't Richard Avedon or even Al Gore.... In the end the viewer is confused... is this a movie about a photographer or is it about the human and environmental downside of a globalized consumer culture? If it's the former I give this movie a score of 2; if it's the latter I score it 5. Full Review »
  2. Mar 31, 2011
    2
    Equivalent to staring at a wall for it's running time. What could have been an interesting documentary on Burtynsky's art comes off asEquivalent to staring at a wall for it's running time. What could have been an interesting documentary on Burtynsky's art comes off as pretentious and unnecessary. It all amounts to a big "so what" when it should and could have been so much more. Full Review »
  3. Mikeyj
    Jun 20, 2007
    9
    I saw a presentation of this doc put on by the Art Gallery of Hamilton [,Ontario]. The director was present and we got some interesting I saw a presentation of this doc put on by the Art Gallery of Hamilton [,Ontario]. The director was present and we got some interesting insight into how she tried to approach the topic: the rapid industrialization of china, without being biased. Some people did comment that the images/cinematography on it own conveyed that middle ground but that the score (using mostly industrial-like sounds) does lead the viewer somewhat. I felt it was mostly effective in being unbiased and found it both beautiful and horrible to watch at the same time. It's shocking to see what happens to our recycling, the cities being torn down to facilitate a giant damn and in general the greater harm for profit & progress. I do think a compilation of images from all nations, however improbable, would have been more effective. So one can not sit smug at home and think themselves separate. Although it's hard not to come to the conclusion that China is moving much too fast for its own good, playing catch up to our mistakes, but with the knowledge to know better. Full Review »