Manufactured Landscapes opens with an eight-minute tracking shot of a gigantic factory in China, the camera moving past row after row of workers assembling widgets until you feel like the factory floor circumnavigates the globe. The point of the shot, as with Edward Burtynsky’s photography, is to encourage the viewer to do some rudimentary mathematics about the scale of industry in the world:
eight minutes to move across one factory + look at all those employees + how many factories like this are there in China? = wow, that’s a lot of widgets
While it’s unfair to say that the movie goes downhill from there, the tracking shot packs such a punch that the rest of the film seemed lacking in comparison. It was the only shot in the film that really felt like the cinematic equivalent of Burtynsky’s photography…a long photograph, if you will.