Friday, 4 July 2014

REVIEW - WATERMARK (JENNIFER BAICHWAL AND EDWARD BURTYNSKY)


A rewarding sensuous experience first, and a thoughtful environmental essay second, perhaps contrary to the filmmakers' intentions. But what of that, when Watermark is so delectably rich in its textures, a facet of the film that actually feels weightier due to the contextual content, rather than belittled by it. Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky may be making a pretty prosaic point by lingering on the rapturous beauty of this planet, a point that our abuse of our resources (specifically water) simply must be rethought, but the intensity of the imagery and the simplicity of said point intensifies it - it's immeasurably useful to see exactly what we should be fighting for, and thus to know why. We don't even merely see it in Watermark, we almost feel it too: Baichwal and Burtynsky have crafted a gorgeous collage of sights and sounds with such sensitivity that their footage has a stunning tangibility and immediacy. It's like 3D, only much less manipulative. One can sense the precise feel of raw, slimy leather splatting onto the gritty ground, or the feeble spray of agricultural sprinklers, pissing down life onto soil that may only ever waste it. Watermark is largely free of human protagonists, though in examining our connection to our habitat, and particularly our relationship with sources of water therein, it makes each one of us a protagonist in a way - after all, this is a film about the reason any and every one of us even exists to see it. The film is not overly cinematic, preferring instead to present its hugely varied locations without hyperbole or sensationalism; their innate wonder is thus revealed, and spectacularly so.