As a work of cinema, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch can seem a bit torn in its approach, caught between a desire to spread a message to mainstream viewers and more cryptic, artistic aims. At times, more information would be preferable; in other scenes, images speak volumes without words. But as advocacy, the movie is potent and frequently terrifying.
Stream Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
De Pencier’s cinematography has a good eye for the beauty and horror of man-made or -altered landscapes, and it is hard to deny that the film benefits from being seen on as large a screen as possible, as impressive crane or drone shots fill the screen. But like with Burtynsky’s photographs, it is also hard to deny that the beauty of these shots stands in stark contrast to their purported message.
Both shocking and beautiful, the film impresses itself on the viewer with the awesome scale of the imagery – and with the urgency behind it. We have entered an epoch in which human activity is shaping the planet more than any natural force. Anthropocene bears witness that something’s got to give.
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.
Yes, we’ve filled the atmosphere with levels of carbon dioxide not seen in 66 million years of geologic time. But at least we get our own “epoch,” the Anthropocene, named after us. And there’s a smidgen of cautious hope underscoring much of what we see here.
Be forewarned: Anthropocene is often an overwhelming experience. The human accountability on display can be tough to swallow.