TIFF Review: 'Anthropocene: The Human Epoch' Is a Kaleidoscopic Look at Dystopian Self-Destruction Directed by Jennifer Baichwal
Starring Alicia Vikander (narrator)
Published Sep 06, 2018Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, a look at humankind's intense altering of the Earth, is Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier's third collaboration with award-winning photographer Edward Burtynsky (following Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark). Travelling the globe, they hone in on images of unnaturally green lithium rivers, piles of stacked-up ivory tusks, and vast landfills of garbage. Some chapters, like food being grown in an underground bunker in London, hint at a future where humans must find new solutions to infertile land.
The scope of the documentary is broad, and at times exhausting. Through brief interviews, and images such as a single construction truck digging into a mountain, they highlight the tension between small individual tasks, and the planetary scale of their implications. Instead of being narrative or voice-over heavy, Anthropocene trusts that the visuals will build on each other, mounting to a larger kaleidoscope of dystopian self-destruction.