Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 8 Ratings

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  • Summary: Manufactured Landscapes begins as a portrait of acclaimed Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, who specializes in large-scale images of vast industrial landscapes. It quickly develops into a meditation on the human and environmental costs of the permanent and profound changes our planet is experiencing. Focusing on Burtynsky's images of China as it undergoes an unprecedented transformation into a 21st century powerhouse, the film’s surface is beautiful, its implications frightening. Largely shot by Peter Mettler, it captures a brave new world that manages to be both luscious and unutterably repellent, often simultaneously. (Film Forum) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    An eloquent ecological warning.
  3. Reviewed by: Kenneth Baker
    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?
  4. 75
    Burtynsky doesn't preach. He's content to let viewers make up their own minds from his eye-opening and eye-pleasing images.
  5. 70
    Slow in places, but the feeling of foreboding you’ll take away from it is undeniable.
  6. 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.
  7. Feels constrained and rather dutiful, no matter how passionate these people are about what they're observing.

See all 16 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 2 out of 3
  1. Mikeyj
    Jun 20, 2007
    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. Expand
  2. photon
    Jul 8, 2007
    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. Expand
  3. Mar 31, 2011
    Equivalent 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. Expand