Anthropocene: The Human Epoch

Year: 2018
Production Co: Mercury Films
Director: Jennifer Baichwal/Edward Burtynsky/Nicholas de Pencier
Writer: Jennifer Baichwal
Cast: Alicia Vikander

The best review I saw is that while beautiful, there's a difference between bombarding an audience with images and telling them something, and I couldn't have put it better. Scenes of humanity's effect on and use of the planet are staggering – there's one of a huge articulated shovel machine in a desert collecting sand for some industrial process that's the size of a container ship or a skyscraper lying on its side.

But there's very little real depth apart from showing one clip after another to say more or less what's in the title; we're having an outsized effect on the natural world and the surface of the Earth. View it more life Powaqqatsi or Microcosmos, as a film about arresting imagery, and you might get more out of it.

As it is it's not terribly clear how we're supposed to feel about what we're presented with, whether it's collective shame at the damage we've wreaked on the environment or wonder at the command we've imposed despite small stature, weak limbs, no sharp teeth or anything else our competitors in the animal world have.

It's narrated by the dulcet, husky tones of Alicia Vikander where she has plenty of sit downs, rests and doesn't rush her lines in the least. In the end, I think you'll only be really impressed with it if you've never heard the term anthropocene or you're a climate change denier. The raw information, without the sensory stimulation attached to the scenery, is old news.

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