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Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands (2009)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Short | 2009 (Canada)
1:39 | Trailer

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The huge tar sands in Alberta are a potentially profitable resource, but the environmental impact could be heavy and long-term.


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The huge tar sands in Alberta are a potentially profitable resource, but the environmental impact could be heavy and long-term.

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Documentary | Short


Not Rated | See all certifications »


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2009 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

Petropolis  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

I Hear The Ruin Of All Space
20 February 2017 | by See all my reviews

Ontological Eye: pure white light, hovering: Creation: formless diaphanous white cloud nebulae veiling vast primordial impenetrable expanses of black and olive-green boreal spruces and pines, canopy after canopy, unplumbed profundity, the teeming earth-nourishing impenetrable wilderness filling the face of the antediluvian deep. The Divine Eye hung there in arrested immobility, surprised to see above the earth again. I hear the breath of all space, cosmogony choreographed into existence, indestructible, time untapped, nature's possibilities as numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sands on the shore of the sea. A sea of tree tops stretching and spiring skyward into the heavens, untouched forestry multiplied most mightily. Watery delta wetlands, a shimmering river watercourse (the Athabasca), the waters under the heavens gathered in one place, swiftly rushing alongside Alberta's rich Boreal Forest, a forest yielding seeds of each kind contained within it upon the earth, replenishing itself and its domain for eternity, the heavens and the earth completed, and all their array.

The river branches, curves, and carves out teardrop-shaped mounds of land. Cutting a powerful strong course through boundless burgeoning wilderness, pearled sky above and river below hugged by limitless vegetation, the Ontological Eye dips down to take a closer look at water that should be swarming with swarms of living creatures, water that should be shimmering with the divine spark of the sun as it should. The river, unnatural, sullied, poised, the Eye refusing to believe the refuse, this mephitic, foul exhalation from earth, corrupted currents, the Eye pulling up and way in disbelief, past white sky into clouds of clouds and the Eye slowly pans over a metropolis (Fort McMurray), unholy trinity of water and air and city, an unholy cosmogram, then gliding into pacifying powder blue and white ocean haze filling the screen, zooming back and it's pollution from smokestacks, massive quantities of carbon dioxide released into the air, livid flames licking the goodness of out the sky and spewing back foulness, the Divine Eye, having had enough, pulls back and zooms out, and there it is, the hidden ugliness that the powers that be do not want you to see, a slagland wasteland out of a fantasy novel, the landscape slagheaped and scorched, spavined and vitiated, legions of beige mud streaked with black bitumen, the disunity of scenery causing the Eye to once again become immobilized and arrested above the earth again, outraged to see the earth itself was filled with outrage. The flaming heat of smokestacks destroying the Creation of the flaming heat of whatever prevailing cosmological theory the viewer cleaves to.

Deep tracks in the landscape look like bare uprooted trees unnaturally stretched out on a torture wrack mazarine lithochromotics of uprooted roots, polluted lagoons the shape of tear-drops (officially called 'tailing ponds', perhaps named after the tail of a teardrop....), the water opening its eyes and crying, tortured eyes, tortured ghosts, golden-coloured lava lunar landscape, clouds smoke as the Tower of a bitumen upgrader plant (Syncrude) emerges from view, flanked by a square-shaped football-field size courtyard comprised of polluted water, as the angle shifts and smoke cascades left, I see a face: the building is the nose, the square water is an eye, the horizontal machinery is the mouth.

From this moment forward, I've lost my mind, because not only do I externally and internally see and feel the disunity of the microcosm and macrocosm, but my mind gets completely tangled up in the union of things that should not be a union, I see things that I should not be seeing, as if I've suffered through a temporary degenerative metamorphosis of sanity.

The Camera Eye has now become the consciousness of the machinery looking at itself and looking with....awe? insouciance? celebration? at the destruction it has wrought. It's consciousness amplifies the deeper it glides into the world of open pit mining. The Camera Eye's robotics are felt as the camera is adjusted to see more clearly. The technical readjustment of the camera, its mechanization, the feeling of helicopter movement, echo the ontological readjustment viewers should be undergoing as their eyes and hearts and minds and souls try to make sense of the destruction they're beholding. The Camera Eye's perspective pondering the choreography of destruction wrought by humankind's industrialized machinations, the Divine Eye arrested at the thought that humankind has created a world where petroleum's power is supreme, the Ontological Eye staggered by what it is seeing: humans filling the earth and conquering it, eliminating the fish of the sea and the fowl of the heavens and every beast that crawls upon the earth. And G-d saw all that We had done, and, look, it wasn't very good.

Humankind, breathtaking in its artistry and destruction Land, thermally crackled and covered in black crud The tar sands, a manifestation of our current oil-based lives, a manifestation that reflects humankind's current lack of awareness of the interconnectedness of all things, a lack of consciousness, a lack of values, a lack of enlightenment, a lack of spirituality, a lack of faith, a lack of thirst for divine enrichment, every illness and every plague in existence humankind bringing down upon itself and this land, the vines are dried up, the fig trees cut off, the pomegranates, the date palms, the apples, all the trees of the field, dried up, for humankind's heart has hardened and its rivers have stopped flowing, the desire for material wealth supplanting the drippings of the honeycombs of nature and G-d, humankind's fires consuming earth in every capacity, leaving behind a wasteland.

Humankind breaching natural limits, moving out of the Holocene and into the Anthropocene, a new of era of devolution defined by humankind's biological, chemical, geological transformation of earth's global ecological and environmental systems, key planetary systems.

I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and time one livid final flame. What's left us then?

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