In the history of art, starting from the early paintings, the image of “nature” is a beautiful symbol that makes people feel refreshed, the elegance of the Eastern Landscape School, and the tranquility and far-reaching of the Western Impression School.
But with the advent of the camera, the innate mission of reporting, exposing, and presenting the documentaries has broken this dream bubble of “everything in nature is beautiful”.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the plundering of resources and the uncontrolled expansion of cities have caused irreparable damage to the earth’s ecosystem. At this time, the functions of “re-engraving” and “reproducing” of the documentary can calmly and objectively take care of the changes in the development of the earth.
From big to tiny
As a “late presenter”, the documentary first recognizes the meaning of the existence of all things in nature from a macro perspective, and conducts value criticism in a wider range of life.
”Earth Pulse”, which took 5 years to shoot by BBC Science Channel, depicts the natural landscape of the earth in detail. It not only shows the beautiful and moving beauty, but also does not miss the inaccessible and desolate scenes and the ruined pictures after artificial over-development.
When those scenes that were once ignored in the anthropocentric perspective are presented, the relationship between man and nature can be reconsidered: the earth is an anthropomorphic character in the documentary, a life subject with a pulse, a place where human beings can communicate and communicate with each other. object of contact.
Another macro-perspective documentary “Ocean” focuses on the mysterious territory of 3/4 of the earth’s surface. The recently deceased director Jacques Behan spent 5 years exploring the mysteries of the majestic ocean world, making this the largest and highest-grossing documentary in history.
In the shot of “Ocean”, all kinds of creatures were originally roaming leisurely in the sea, but as the whale jumped out of the sea level, the scene of the land industry in the distance began to be disturbing – the change of the environment is slowly approaching all marine life. Giant nets with fishing fins, thousands of plastic waste, industrial waste water, etc., are destroying the ocean in a form of chronic violence, and human greed and plundering are fully revealed in it.
The environmental awareness constructed by “Ocean” is to first outline the natural beauty of the ocean through images, and then through contrast, to present the changes in the lives of marine creatures, highlighting their trauma and sorrow, so that the audience can form a contrast between the visual senses and experience the future. A serious environmental catastrophe.
Diary of an Emperor Penguin
Director Jacques Behan “cultivates tacit understanding” with birds in the first year of filming “Migrating Birds”
The earth is an anthropomorphic character in the documentary, an object that humans can talk to and connect with.
Another kind of presence in the documentary is to face natural life from a microscopic perspective, and endow animals with subjectivity. As a viewing tool, the camera has gradually shifted from looking down to looking up.
When making these documentaries, the director usually uses an anthropomorphic approach, witty storytelling, and imaginative narration, with animals as the protagonists.
Although there is almost no language dialogue, just like in the documentary “Micro World”, the audience can also see the colorful life of insects, their joys and sorrows; in “Emperor Penguin Diary”, the seemingly clumsy and lovely emperor penguins Raising offspring, he does not hesitate to travel long distances for 9 months; in “White Planet”, global warming has gradually reduced the ice in the Arctic, and the polar bear family is slowly moving forward on the ice without the support of the ice, and his eyes are full of unease and hesitation .
Through these documentaries, the audience is shocked that the animal world turns out to be the same as the human world—it can understand love and hate, and have similar perceptions and memories.
Superstar’s social care
The transition from commercial films to documentaries often means a huge gap in income, but many people still choose to take this path they love.
When French director Jacques Behan was filming “Migrating Birds”, in order to let the birds relax their vigilance, the team almost did not shoot for the first year, just to “cultivate a tacit understanding” with the birds.
Director Luc Besson dreamed of being a diver since he was a child, but an accident accidentally broke his dream of being a companion to the sea, so he directed the autobiographical film “Blue Sea and Blue Sky” and then filmed the documentary “Atlantis” – This documentary without any narration shows his sincere love for the ocean.
These documentaries with the earth as the protagonist, while allowing us to observe and get close to nature at the macro or micro level, carry a very serious theme: no longer care about human beings narrowly, step beyond the barrier of anthropocentrism, realize Humans and other creatures are a community of destiny.
Many environmental problems, such as air pollution, waste water discharge, deforestation, nuclear radiation, etc., have undergone qualitative changes silently over time, and it is too late to visually detect the changes. Therefore, the documentary needs another narrative, to face the tragedy of the earth, and to present the problem behind the artificial landscape in a more warning way—human beings are already under the same accomplice structure.
“Before the Flood” stills
Hollywood actor Leonardo, at the beginning of the documentary “Before the Flood”, mentioned the famous painting “Paradise on Earth” by the surrealist painter Ronimis hanging on the ceiling of his childhood. This painting shows the Garden of Eden, the world and hell from left to right, reflecting the uncontrolled madness and desire of human beings when the mountains and rains are about to come. Leonardo described the Earth as “before the flood”.
The film follows Leonardo on a trip around the world. Human activities have indeed changed the state of the land, ocean and atmosphere, and the fate of life on earth will be redefined and changed by the human species, entering the “Anthropocene”, a new geological period full of uncertainty and danger.
The picture captured by the camera seems to be the “natural” process of dying. Leonardo overlooks the destroyed rainforest from the plane. He sighed, isn’t this Mordor, the residence of the devil in the movie “The Lord of the Rings”? But the devastated land in front of us is indeed the real picture captured by the camera, not the fictional picture of a magical movie.
With the improvement of shooting technology, the scenery that documentaries can reach is more diverse, and it also brings some distant warning signs to human beings. The documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, which also aims to sort out the relationship between human beings and nature, was produced and filmed by Al Gore, a former vice president of the United States.
”Truths That Can’t Be Ignored” uses information and data to explain the severe challenges facing the earth, showing the changes in the landscape under global warming. At the same time, the film also exposes the implicit ecological violence of economically developed regions against backward regions.
Gore strongly condemned the inaction of the United States in the face of the climate crisis in the film: the United States has only 5% of the world’s population, but emits nearly 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases; on the other side of the world, Bangladesh’s 2 million People lose their homes to rising sea levels and become climate refugees.
Why are people placed on such an assembly line? Why do the fingers repeat the same movement over and over?
Through the presentation of the documentary, a global ecological crisis that seems to be a butterfly effect has a greater significance behind it: the relationship between geopolitics and the environment. Capitalism turns land into commodities, and nationalism turns land into territories and borders, but the earth has no boundaries. The human civilization system faces challenges from environmental problems, yet cultural hegemony and colonialism persist.
A documentary film “Artificial Landscape”, which focuses on developing countries, outlines the relationship between people and the environment in the world factory of third world countries.
The most astonishing part of the film is the 8-minute opening sequence. In a large factory in China, the camera pans sideways, countless workers and assembly lines are slowly displayed, and the repeated mechanical sounds of the factory rumble and reverberate.
This is also the special feature of “Artificial Landscape”. It stares at the faces of people behind the changes in the environment and ecology: why are people arranged on such an assembly line? Why do the fingers repeat the same movement over and over? Why are the world’s factories a uniform color? This is the cause, and the result, of changing the Earth’s environment.
Another documentary focusing on ecological justice is “Junkyard” directed by director Russi Walker. The film filmed the largest landfill in the world.
On the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 7,000 tons of waste are dumped every day; residents here rummage through resources to earn living expenses. Artists paint in this “ruin”, while creating and learning about the survival stories of these waste pickers at the end of the global environmental industrial chain. These garbage from all over the world have become “treasures” for the poor to survive.
As a type of film, the purpose of documentary is to present facts and express opinions, but its deep meaning is to show the intention of the filmmakers to encourage the audience to pay attention to or change the status quo described in the film.
Back to “Migrating Birds”, there is a lush and peaceful crop field in the documentary. A little bird waiting to be fed suddenly bumped into a huge harvester when its wings were not full. This is like when the movie was created, when the Lumiere brothers photographed the train of human civilization coming from afar. The survival of living things and the development of civilizations have many overlapping images and responses.
All the precious pictures flashed the same aura, like a warning to the world, and a memo to all human beings: In the face of the rumbling disaster, all things on the earth should not be helpless bird.