Directed by award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal and renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky, 'Watermar'k re-teams the creators of Manufactured Landscapes as they bring together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use. We see massive floating abalone farms off China's Fujian coast and the construction site of the biggest arch dam in the world - the Xiluodu, six times the size of the Hoover. We visit the barren desert delta where the mighty Colorado River no longer reaches the ocean and the water-intensive leather tanneries of Dhaka. Shot in stunning 5K ultra high-definition video and full of soaring aerial perspectives, this film shows the grace and beauty of water but also its fragility and force.
A visually captivating documentary Watermark details – and this word is particularly key to the film at large – the impact of water upon humanity. A dyed in the wool environmentalist and slightly animal mad vegetarian I would normally expect to absolutely adore Watermark however the poor use of context, verbal content and general detail distract from the powerful visuals that, in many ways, speak for themselves.
It is almost as though co-directors, Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky were not quite sure what tone they wished their film to take, this is far from an earth shattering depiction of the immense power of nature, nor is it a deep and considered look into the detrimental impact of mankind on the natural environment, whilst it also fails to be a historical or geographical exploration of the changing ‘landscape’ of Earth’s water.
It attempts in a strange way to be all and none of these things, supplying us with uninspiring information at times, whilst at others overloading us with detail, all the while undercutting every single word spoken with breath taking images of water, and in many cases, the absence of it.
It may surprise you then that I have given Watermark four stars, this comes however from my accidental second watching of the DVD (though the film was only released in UK theatres two weeks ago) without the sound on, where I found myself even more impressed – almost overwhelming so in fact, the stock images in this review do not do the film justice – by the visual element of the documentary. Had Baichwal and Burtynsky let the camera do all the talking and Watermark would have been far, far better.
You rated this film: 4
Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Videos exempt from classification by the British Board of Film Classification