Petropolis

Petropolis

Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands = Petropolis : Perspectives Aériennes Sur Les Sables Bitumineux D'Alberta

DVD - 2010
Average Rating:
5
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Publisher: [Toronto] : Distributed in Canada by Mongrel Media, [2010]
Branch Call Number: DVD 338.8232097123 Pet 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (70 min.) :,sd., col. ;,12 cm., in container

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p
pkevin
May 14, 2013

Library citation fails to mention that this film is produced by Greenpeace. A highly misleading film; the 'England' statistic was discredited long ago. True, 35M acres (140,000 km2) are slated for development. But only 0.46% of that land area is slated for the ugly open-pit mining as depicted in the film: literally one-half of one percent. The number is ~160,000 acres, or 650 km2 -- which is roughly the size of Toronto, not England. The film fails to mention that the remaining ~99% of the total area -- with oil deposits too deep for unsightly open-pit mining -- will be developed "in situ." The process employed is SAGD (Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage), producing only a well with pumps on the surface, and a series of pipes down below -- no strip mines, no ugly disruption, no tailings ponds. Nor does the film bother to note that the ugly footage is taken from the oldest and dirtiest part of the oil sands, the small-but-ugly corner that was first opened in 1967 before the advent of modern developments in environmental technology and land reclamation. These advancements now include one that cuts the lifepan of tailings ponds down by a factor of 100 -- meaning that we might someday no longer have a tailings-ponds issue. And since the other 99% of the oil sands are covered by boreal forest and always will be, they're not too exciting to a Greenpeace producer trying to create a propaganda film. Footage of SAGD pumps sitting in an undisturbed forest while quietly and cleanly pumping oil from below probably wouldn't have too much shock value. And to answer the concerns of others who have posted comments, the reason they keep showing the same ugly videos over and over again is that there just aren't too many tailings ponds to film in that small-but-ugly corner of Alberta. So the filmmakers have to constantly keep going over the same old ground, to plant the false idea of one giant, continuous toxic swamp -- leaving the deceitful impression that eventually we'll have ugliness the size of England. The film also trots out the false cancer stories fabricated by Dr. John Connor, who was found (by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta) to be cooking up a phoney cancer scare. He was officially censured in 2009 for hiding the truth through obstruction, and for making statements that were "inaccurate or untruthful" -- the (4 Nov 2009) CPSA report on his conduct can easily be found online. This film is nonsense, and the viewer would be well advised to find out the boring, unexciting facts instead of indulging this cinematic fantasy. With modern environmental technology, there aren't going to be many more tailings ponds in the future, so propaganda films like this one are going to be increasingly difficult to make.

s
scrubble4
Nov 22, 2012

I thought there would be some commentary with the visual images. I have never been in northern Alberta so I appreciated getting a 'lay of the land'. However, we found ourselves fast forwarding much of it as the slow moving visuals either needed text or voice commentary to hold our attention. We did fast forward to the end, slowing a few times, because the images are definitely worth seeing. Other people leaving comments here have expounded on the value of the visuals.

h
HereHere
Jul 31, 2012

I wish this film had narration, telling me why this area had so many flaming areas, what the perimeter of the tailings pond was, and some expert discussion of the man-made structures and equipment in use, including the size of the bucket/tires on the loader. As someone who knows very little about this industry, I had a hard time understanding what I was seeing (other than it is a gross environmental disaster larger than the country of England). Still, it is worth watching, ideally with friends so you can discuss things as you go along. Otherwise, it would be boring. Beautiful camera quality.

b
Boosterl16
Feb 15, 2012

This film speaks volume in the images it shows.
However, there is only so much time one can be expected to sit and watch pretty much the same images from different angles over and over for so long. I recommend the first 15 minutes of it.

f
fmaack
Sep 11, 2010

Like 'Baraka' and other documentaries which show images from the world,
both good and bad, "Petropolis" does not need narration to tell youwhat is going on in Northern Alberta. The images alone do it justice.

You only need to see the images of the tailings ponds, hot crude
gushing from pipes into lakes and bleak, colourless landscapes to know
that this is truly environmental damage on a mass scale.

The film opens with the camera panning across the unspoiled wilderness
of the boreal forests of Northern Alberta. Suddenly, the viewer is over an industrial wasteland like none other. The total size of the tar sands is 140,000 square kilometres. By comparison the area of England is 130,000. There are also plans to extensively expand the oil sands in the near future.

The supplements on the DVD are interesting as well and perhaps should
have been part of the 45 minute feature. There are interviews with local residents, a local doctor who speaks about increased cancer rates, a fisherman who talks of increased numbers of mutilated fish and residents of Fort McMurray who talk of the horrible toxic smell which
now regularly covers the town.

This is a good documentary for anyone interested in the destruction of the oil sands on the ecology of North Alberta.

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