Manufactured Landscapes follows photographer, Edward Burtynsky on his journey through China and a brief detour into Bangladesh as he captures elements representing the country’s industrial revolution. The film covers themes including the production cycle in China, its generation and usage of energy, globalization, and the urbanization rate in China.
The documentary begins with the production cycle in China, represented by a factory that seems to extend infinitely and a depiction of the man power needed to operate such a company. It then goes onto the recycling process, which makes the viewers realize the ramifications that developed countries place on developing countries. When America defers its waste to China (where the health and safety of the workers and also the natural landscape are threatened), it allows us to shift our moral responsibilities to burden those laborers.
The coal industry and Three Gorges Dam are examples of how China generates and uses energy. Approximately 1.1 million people had to be displaced from their towns in order to make way for the enormous dam. Not only were the inhabitants forced to relocate and see their homes demolished, they were paid a piece-rate to dismantle their own town. The vast valleys of the coal and the magnitude of the dam is an indication of the rapidity of the country’s industrialization process.
Urbanization in China is growing at an unprecedented rate. Specifically, the city of Shanghai was described as a transformation from traditional to modern. Many of the residents were forced out homes that had been in their family for decades and generations. China under Mao was 90% agrarian, but current plans are to make the country 70% urban, the old woman sitting inside the high rise apartment was able to give a sense that the old traditional ways of China is a thing of the past.
Burtynsky’s search for the largest industrial incursions in China is a way of bringing the degree of manufactured landscapes...
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