Anthropocene: The Human Epoch

“Modern human civilization has developed within just 10,000 years, yet our success as a species has tipped the planet’s systems outside their natural limits.”

Due to lasting changes on Earth caused by human activities, scientists believe the Holocene epoch has come to an end and we have now entered the Anthropocene. Each of this film’s seven chapters go over a different aspect of human activity that has been (negatively) impacting our planet: excavation, terraforming, technofossils, anthroturbation, boundary limits, climate change, and extinction. These continued alterations and domination of the Earth’s materials, resources, and surface are what has led the planet to its current Sixth Extinction event.

Filmed across six continents and 20 countries, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch shows the extent terraforming, slow violence, and human superiority and domination have altered our Earth. The film’s cinematography presents impactful scenes of biodiversity loss within various ecosystems, anthropogenic causes of pollution and carbon emissions, erosion of soil and farming land, and terraforming of mines and mountains for human needs. In these environments that have been cleared, fragmented, and degraded for human use, humans must contend with how to live in and around areas such as the Dandora Landfill Site, where dumps of technofossils created by humans (plastics, concrete, aluminum) persist in the biosphere and now make up what is the technosphere. These devastating and destructive scenes force humanity up against the evil of commodifying our planet. The film ultimately asks if altering human ways will be a globally-backed mission in order to ensure the Earth and all living beings’ survival.

The documentary’s narration is rather sparse, with the film instead choosing to send its message through compelling videography. These scenes featuring the destructiveness of human activity provide a stark contrast to the original depictions of the serenity and beauty of the environment. This elicits a sense of remorse for all the harm humanity has caused, prompting them to recognize just how much we have been disrupting the natural balance of the planet. Furthermore, the film’s many aerial shots are helpful in allowing viewers to look at their world from a different perspective. These scenes show how huge our planet is and how small we are in comparison, yet our actions have a significant impact on the entire Earth. The perspective work with the excavation machinery sends the audience a similar message as well, playing into the idea that human industry and technology are becoming bigger, more dominating forces. Because of the minimal commentary, the film does not explicitly explain the exact implications of each highlighted topic. Therefore, young viewers may need guidance to make out these conclusions for themselves.

©2024 ClimateLit (Qunyh Vu with later edits by Alexandra Delacruz)


The Anthropocene Project website features more information about this film as well as information about the group’s other endeavors, which include global exhibitions, a book, and an education program.

Publisher: Mercury Films, 2018

Pages: 1h 27m


Audience: Ages 14+

Format: Films

Topics: Anthropocene, Anthropocentrism, Anthroturbation, Biodiversity Loss, Biosphere, Carbon Emissions, Climate Change, Climate Guilt, Dandora Dumpsite, Ecological Balance, Erosion, Excavation, Extinction, Extractivism, Human Dominance, Human Expansionism, Human Impact, Industry, Limits to Growth, Planetary Boundaries, Pollution, Sixth Extinction, Slow Violence, Technofossils, Technosphere, Terraforming, Trash