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Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives On the Alberta Tar Sands

HD   G

Peter Mettler

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About the Movie

The Athabasca tar sands in Alberta are an oil reserve the size of England. Extracting crude oil that lies beneath the unspoiled wilderness requires a massive industrialized effort, effecting catastrophic damages on land, air, water, and climate. Peter Mettler shows us this extraordinary view from above, filming primarily from a helicopter to capture this breathtaking, unparalleled view of the world’s largest industrial, capital and energy project. In a hypnotic flight of image and sound, Mettler explores the clash between industry and earth, and beholds the barren wasteland that is left behind.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 8
  • Fresh: 7
  • Rotten: 1
  • Average Rating: 7.2/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: The film's power is the contemplative space crafted by Mettler and his collaborators. – Jennie Punter, Globe and Mail, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: This timely oil industry documentary from Greenpeace is only 43 minutes long, but stunning, fugue-like aerial photography justifies its cinema release. – Cath Clarke, Guardian, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: Peeled-back forests; outflow lakes black with bitumen; valleys eczema'd by excavation; it is at once scary, nightmarish and oddly beautiful. – Nigel Andrews, Financial Times, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Greenpeace Propoganda at its Finest

Yes there are breathtaking shots and I'm sure for those persons who want to reap the benefits without paying any sort of price and have kept them selves isolated from industry over the past 50 years, this is a "shocking" film. It is always easy to create a one sided documentary about any subject and make your chosen subject look as beautiful or as ugly as you mind set wants it to be. This is no exception. Take this one with a very large dose of skepticism. Instead of offering viable alternatives for anything they don't like, Greenpeace would rather dwell on the negatives. It's so much easier. This video presents one side only.

Hypnotic & horrifying: a must-see

I had the great pleasure of watching Petropolis at it's engagement in Toronto. It's hypnotic, it's horrifying, and it's a must-see for Canadians who are unaware of what is going on in their own backyard. Mettler and the producers from Greenpeace took an unconventional approach to documenting the tar sands destruction by simply letting the horrific landscape visuals breath and speak for themselves. They could have easily made another talking-head documentary that drowns us in statistics and facts that, while horrifying, tend to diminish the power of the moving image. Petropolis rises above the spin and shows this monstrous oil project for what it actually is: a wholly unnecessary climate crime.

A must see.

A film is nothing without (emotionally & literally) moving images. Petropolis does not disappoint. Many people know of the tar sands and the profits that they are bringing to Alberta, but few have seen the cost in the desolation of this beautiful landscape and the damage to the ecosystem, not to mention what this entails for humans & animals alike that live nearby. This film simply shows us what is there.

Whether or not the viewer agrees with the "propaganda" of Greenpeace, there is no way that anyone can watch this and not question the reasoning behind the tar sands project. Ultimately the purpose of the film is to make us think, not sign up as members of Greenpeace. I would urge everyone to see this film!

Also, in response to some commentors, had they actually viewed the film, they would know that the filmmakers addressed their usage of helicopters to film the tar sands. Really there is no other way to film such widespread desolation and environmental ruin in a remote location.

Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives On the Alberta Tar Sands
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Customer Ratings