The Human Factor: Our Review of ‘Anthropocene: The Human Epoch’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, Theatrical, TIFF '18 by - September 28, 2018
The Human Factor: Our Review of ‘Anthropocene: The Human Epoch’

The staggering state of humanity’s impact on itself is humbling…

With Anthropocene: The Human Epoch the team of Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky return with a film that skirts the line between beautiful and tragic as we see how human has reengineered the planet, perhaps past the point of no return.

Scientists believe that we’ve left the Holocene epoch (which started 11,700 years ago when the last ice age receded) and entered the Anthropocene (because humans now change the earth and its systems more than all other processes combined). From the Ural Mountains to the marble quarries in Italy and beyond we see staggering evidence of man altering nature itself, and the film documents evidence of it all.  The film is part of The Anthropocene Project premiering simultaneously on Sept. 28 at the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada featuring new Burtynsky photographs, new film installations by Baichwal and de Pencier, experiences in augmented and virtual reality, a book published by Steidl, and education program.

Narrated by the one and only Alicia Vikander, this Canadian trio has done it again with a film that juxtaposes the beauty of the world around us with the subsequent strip mining and destruction of that very same beauty.

To its credit the film doesn’t hammer us over the head with subjects and testimonials that we could have very easily just tuned out of, but instead it lets the visuals take over.  That really is where the magic in these films truly comes from as Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier make sure that it’s the visuals of how we as a species has impacted the planet, and not someone in a suit just telling us that.

The photography in this film is downright haunting as it sculpts a tragic yet still kind of beautiful portrait of the world that we live in and the shape that it is ultimately in.

It serves as a salient yet still incredibly engaging piece of art that will move audience well beyond the theatre and Vikander’s narration isn’t in our face throughout and just peaks in key moments to allow the poignancy of the narrative that these filmmakers are painting to truly come through and make the intended impact.

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is a reminder of the moment and the chaos we are causing inside of it.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
Comments are closed.