By Nick Maylor 


Official Film Synopsis:

ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch is the third collaboration between award-winning photographer Edward Burtynsky and acclaimed filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier following Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark. In breathtaking tableaus, their latest documentary continues their exploration of industrialization and extraction in astonishing scale and perspective.

I walked into the upper sections of the gorgeous Elgin Winter Garden Theatre ready to feel a great shame in my species by the time the forthcoming documentary on the current state of our planet had its credits roll.

The Canadian film is a wonder to behold with stunning wide landscapes and vistas, aerial footage of Earth’s surface and how the outer layer of our planet has been affected by human activity. Quarries, mines, oceans, fields and all manner of vast urban areas are seen in the film’s glorious visual presentation. Academy Award Winner Alicia Vikander narrates the film; which is not so much of a “shame on you” or exercise in finger-wagging. This movie plays more of a straight-talk exploration of the facts. This is what’s up. This is what’s coming. This is why, and this is what we can do. We are ALL implicated, to one extent or another. The team of filmmakers made this point during the opening remarks; that they didn’t want to get bogged down in despair when exploring the facts of what we have done to our pale, blue dot; but to recognize some sort of hope and optimism in the issues and their exploration on camera.

I’m still processing all of the mental baggage that comes with such an earnest and crucial subject but this film made me want to be better.

The action is bookended with a ceremonial mass-burning of elephant tusks. This (as an organizer states) is a symbolic gesture showing the world that while these elephants could not be spared from death, we as a species can recognize the importance of saying that their remains, the ivory for which they were killed, doesn’t have to be a commodity or a trinket. I would rather watch all of those magnificent anthropological remains go up in a sea of holy fire than have another magnificent beast killed for a pair of its tusks. There is hope here somewhere, in the inherent decency in all of us.  Kudos to the team behind Anthropocene for shining a light on that.

Watch it when you get a chance. It will be worth it.

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