Burtynsky is primarily a phtogographer famous making monumental photographs of landscapes altered by industry: vast oil fields, polluted landscapes, scrapped Leviathans and cityscapes. The grand, awe-inspiring beauty of his images is often in tension with the compromised environments they depict. He has done a lot of work in China where he has documented that country's industrial emergence, including the construction of one of the world's largest engineering projects, the Three Gorges Dam.
The film works as a compliment to Burtynsky's photographic work, featuring an enormous assembly plant in China, a ship-breaking yard in Bangladesh, a huge stone quarry in Vermont, old neighbourhoods in Shanghai waiting to be torn down in favour of east-berlin style housing. It also features a very disturbing account of e-waste cities in China where most of the world's recycled electronic scrap ends up, to be broken up for precious metals by poor people. The groundwater in these cities is so polluted that the Chinese authorities have to bring in drinking water in tankers.
The film manages to impose a powerful sense of how unsteady our world is as we rush toward an environmentally unsustainable future at lightning speed in the pursuit of progress and economic supremacy. Must be seen by all who care about the world we leave to our children.