Petropolis // Alberta Tar Sands

By: aspyhole

Feb 03 2011

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Category: Environmental Catastrophe, Film

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Aperture:f/5.6
Focal Length:17mm
ISO:400
Shutter:1/2000 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 20D

A striking portrait of arguably one of the world’s greatest environmental disasters can be found in the recently-released Petropolis. The film is a simple but arresting 1 hour helicopter’s-eye-view of a small portion of the 4million hectares of Canadian forest currently being ravaged by a small number of international conglomerates. In only a few years, a significant proportion of the forest has been destroyed in order to extract valuable Bitumen for refinement. In the 100 years that the combustion engine has been in widespread use, the human race has used up a huge percentage of the finite hydrocarbon deposits that have formed over more than 200million years.

While the earth’s doomed situation has been the subject of countless articles, documentaries and fora, seen on the big screen Petropolis submerges the viewer in an inescapable environment of frustratingly-beautiful horror. With merely a few seconds of voiceover, the film is soundtracked by a haunting electronic score by Gabriel Scotti & Vincent Hänni which gives space for contemplation.

One of the film’s most powerful techniques was that it (nearly) didn’t show a single human being. Apart from a single shot of a tarsands worker, the film focussed solely on the forest, the destruction and the tools used to create this destruction, heavily implying the strength of the oil companies’ hold on the situation.

I will focus more on renewable energies in future posts, but there are several extremely interesting projects in development which should be viable alternatives to fossil fuels (including one which produces, well, fossil fuels, out of water and air). Of course, all that is needed is goverment / oil company support.

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