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Movie review: Antropocen – human era as beautiful as horrific

It begins as a descent into the hell's consuming fire. Since the fire in Notre-Dame, we know how quickly the priceless beauty can be shot down. Also the big cathedral in Paris is of course a part of the human era – a symbol of what our species is capable to create.

In the canadian documentary ”Antropocen – human era,” it is not, however, a church that is burning, but the domes of thousands of elefantbetar, which now is destroyed for the to not be sold on the market.

the stunning opening scene, it just becomes worse. The documentary wants to portray how humans have left the 12,000-year-long geological epoch of the holocene, and now is on the verge of antropocen – the increasingly popular name of the era which is characterised by the tracks humans left on the planet.

It is a beautiful and horrific film. Here are low-key, yet visually striking depictions of the smelters in Norilsk in Siberia, Russia's most polluted city. Here are the monstrous brunkolsschakten in the German Hambach, and the mighty wounds in the bergsytan in Carrara in Italy, accompanied by marmorstatyns ominous aria from Mozart's opera ”Don Giovanni”. Here are the giftgröna vattenbassängerna in Chile litiumgruvor and the endless fields of oil refineries in the u.s. Houston.

Everywhere is it clear how the man karvar, chop, cut, saw, blow up and crushes its way into the earth's surface. The huge landfills with plastic waste in Kenya will be encapsulated in the jordlagren as ”teknofossil” when the mountains melted to glow about five billion years.

From the ”Antropocen – human era”. Photo: Nonstop

the Film's appropriation is reminiscent of the apocalyptic images of Kuwait's burning oil fields in Werner herzog's ”Lessons of darkness” or the Sebastião Salgados photographs from the illegal gold mine Serra Pelada, Brazil – visions of the fictitious skräcklandskapen in Ridley Scott's bildpoetiska ”Blade runner” to resemble an idyllic porcelain painting.

the Swedish Alicia Vikander contributes to the doom-laden mood by the impeccable queen's English to convey brief facts about the dark reality of the new era.

the poetic berättarsättet is that it really captures the complexity of the concept of antropocen, which in recent times has come to the fore in interesting books by Sverker Sörlin and the australian philosopher Clive Hamilton.

The lively discussion of what is called the ”human era” really includes all people on the earth is implied only in the film, which does not capture the dynamics that exist in the word antropocen. The Dutch nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen, who coined the term, usually the stress to antropocen not only should symbolize something threatening, but also be used to express pride over the progress humanity has made: humanism, the great works of art, cathedrals.

The most dangerous, says Crutzen, is to affirm the feeling that we are damned. Man, stresses the other, is unique: no other force, living or dead, has the ability to this extent affect the jordsystemets development. But no one has, nor the ability to choose to resist.

One of the film's final scenes is taken from a shop for exclusive souvenirs in Hong kong, where the tusks from the mammoths that are downloaded from the tinande siberian permafrost is ground with precious objects of art. It shows to the full the peculiar blend of creativity and förstörelseförmåga that has made our species and our planet to what they are.

See more. Three other miljödokumentärer: ”The eleventh hour” (2007), ”A plastic ocean” (2016), ”An inconvenient sequel” (2017).

Read more movie reviews in the DN

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