By Eillie Anzilotti
The new documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch doesn’t waste any time getting to the point: For the first minute of the film, all we see are flames. It’s mesmerizing, in a way, the same way that a fire burning in a hearth on a cold night inevitably draws our gaze. But this blaze is underpinned with a sense of horror: In the last few seconds before the scene cuts, we see that it’s burning something—it’s hard to tell what, but we know it’s important, and we know that it’s something to do with our collective future that we’re ruining.
“Anthropocene,” after all, is the proposed name for a new geological epoch that humanity has created by the changes and destruction we’ve wrought on the planet. “Humans now change the Earth and its systems more than all natural processes combined,” narrates actor Alicia Vikander at the documentary’s beginning. The film, which will be released on September 25 and which was directed by photographer Edward Burtynsky along with Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier—whose workon the same subject inspired the movie—traces the scope of human ambition and its consequences across the globe.
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