Dir. Jennifer Baichwal. 2006. 90 min. 35mm. Internationally acclaimed artist Edward Burtynsky is famous for his large-scale, immaculately conceived, dauntingly crystalline photographs of industrial landscapes, such as quarries, factories, mines, and dams. When director Jennifer Baichwal follows him to China, where he shoots the evidence and effects of its massive industrial revolution, she doesn’t merely watch him work—she gets inside, pans around, and uses a full cinematic arsenal to mimic, complicate, and even subtly critique his imagery. An opening tracking shot through a seemingly endless factory is among the most staggering in contemporary cinema, using movement and time to describe an interior space so vast that it seems like a work of science fiction.
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