Share This Page

'Watermark' sure to leave impression

| Thursday, May 8, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Globe-spanning nonfiction film meets Imax-worthy visuals in “Watermark,” a stunning documentary about the way H2O shapes the human world and vice versa.

The film, a collaboration between large-format photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, is achingly gorgeous. There's something so hypnotic, so deeply pleasurable about the sight of flowing waves that must be encoded in our caveman DNA. The film is also worrisome. We depend on our water supply, yet mistreat it so casually; it's a bad codependent relationship on a planetary scale.

Baichwal and Burtynsky racked up the frequent-flier points for spectacular location work in India, China, Germany, China, Greenland, Mexico and more. There are jaw-dropping images of China's Xiluodu Dam, the equal of a half-dozen Hoovers. Its stark mechanized innards suggest a vast concrete Death Star. The camera savors the pointless beauty of the elaborately choreographed fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

We see desert delta tributaries dying of thirst, their feeder streams resembling branches of dead trees and floating coastal cities of boats and nets where Fujian fishing families harvest abalone. Water is poisoned by foul leather tanneries in Dhaka, enjoyed at a California pro-surfing competition and cherished at Northern British Columbia's pristine watershed.

At 92 minutes, the production is stately, unhurried yet crisply focused, never overstaying its welcome.

Colin Covert is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.