Epic scale and scope are not generally associated with documentary film, but Jennifer Baichwal’s revealing portrait of photographer Edward Burtynsky has both – as seen in the opening eight-minute tracking shot through a seemingly infinite factory. She rides shotgun as Burtynsky sets up his camera in vast industrial spaces across China (the Three Gorges dam), India (shipbreaking), and North America (oil fields). The images Burtynsky composes are as artful as any Turner oil painting, yet their subjects are globalisation, corrosion, pollution, exploitation and impending environmental catastrophe… or is it all in the eye of the beholder? Burtynsky offers a few clues in his spare commentary, where he tries not to preach but to acknowledge an impact in which we’re all complicit.
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