Petropolis

Movies, Documentary
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Petropolis
The subtitle – ‘Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands’ – only tells you some of what you need to know about this flyover view of the world’s second largest oil reserve in the throes of rapid exploitation – a process that each day releases levels of carbon dioxide equal to all the cars in Canada. Limiting context to a few titles at the beginning and a voiceover at the end, filmmaker Peter Mettler (cinematographer on 2006’s ‘Manufactured Landscapes’) gives us staggering images of this remote region of Canada from the air: his style suggests a spy plane hijacked by a visual artist moonlighting as an eco-warrior. Slo-mo photography gives the film a ghostly feel, while Mettler’s lingering on the details offers an otherwordly view of landscape and industry as oily sand starts to look like marble and vile brown waste even echoes chocolate. We’re getting used to seeing eco-docs on our screens (the more prosaic ‘Dirty Oil’ tackled the same subject back in March), but this hallucinatory, 43-minute film is more of a protesting art piece than a docu-essay.

By: Dave Calhoun

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Director: Peter Mettler