Review: ‘Anthropocene: The Human Epoch’ delivers a powerful warning of a world in decline
A movie thousands of years in the making, “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” takes cameras to where our consumptive need has most alarmingly re-engineered the planet. It’s also, in many ways, a document of a spiritual/environmental undoing.
Filming across a dozen countries, Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky continue the visual breadth of their previously observed warning shots about the scope of progress (“Manufactured Landscapes,” “Watermark”) with a reflective tour of excavation, industry and decimation that argues we’ve already moved into a new geological epoch owned entirely by us.
Dotted with alarming facts delivered in gravely intoned voice-over by Alicia Vikander, “Anthropocene” finds the terrible awe in town-destroying terraforming projects in Germany worked by earthmovers of “Mad Max”-like magnitude, the sweeping wretchedness of a city-sized African landfill scavenged by thousands of the poor working alongside sickly looking pelicans, and what the acid-caused bleaching of coral reefs looks like via time lapse photography.
Artfully composed vérité meant to confound and disturb as it gives eye-in-the-sky views of belching factories, hacked forests and vast lithium-extraction ponds while occasionally crashing to earth for a brief testimonial from an affected human, the film isn’t the most cohesive look at startling global transformation. It’s strongest, however, as a dizzying, dimensional tour of scale and time, forcing us to wonder how a sense of earth-centric balance can be restored.
'Anthropocene: The Human Epoch'
Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Playing: Sept. 25, Laemmle; Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m., Aero Theatre, Santa Monica
Only good movies
Get the Indie Focus newsletter, Mark Olsen's weekly guide to the world of cinema.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.