Water! Water! Water! From CHINATOWN to THERE WILL BE BLOOD to Kevin Costner’s (underappreciated and misunderstood) WATERWORLD, humans’ relationship with this lifeblood has always been a draw for filmmakers and storytellers. As it should be – after all, H2O makes up around 60% of you and me.
Jennifer Baichwal and photographer Edward Burtynsky’s stunning documentary WATERMARK gushes, sprays, bubbles, ebbs and flows with breathtaking visuals of water. It explores our relationship with, and impact on, water in countries around the globe and was filmed at breathtaking locations in the USA, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Bangladesh, India and China. The diverse range of striking sights includes vast rice paddies, humongous artificial dams, great rivers, baffling agricultural irrigation systems, magnificent ancient step wells which lead to a murky subterranean abyss, and colossal aqueducts steering the water where we want it to go.
Since prehistory humans have settled wherever the water is, or have ventured out to find it. We have since found ways to manipulate it, hijack it and exploit it. As a result we have created wonders of engineering, often beguiling to behold in their beauty and ingenuity. But we have also laid waste to good land and poisoned clean water. Our usage of water reveals the very best and the very worst of what we are capable of.
Burtynsky and Baichwal use spectacular large-format and aerial photographs as well as time-lapse footage to tell a story about humankind’s relationship with our surroundings. They have created a visual feast which will leave you breathless and show you extraordinary imagery from across the world. Although we may be discovering many of the remarkable watery sites and structures featured for the first time, these are the places that make modern life as we know it possible. The depiction of these places in such an aesthetically dramatic way forces us to engage in a conversation about how we live and the need for conservation which might deepen our understanding of the elements we are messing with, here on this planet of ours.