May 14, 2001
New IMAX film takes audiences on magical journey
by Deborah Stone
Opening at Pacific Science Center's Boeing IMAX Theatre is the visually lush and fascinating film, "Cirque du Soleil Journey of Man." The show combines IMAX 3D technology with the spectacular performances of the famed Cirque du Soleil troupe on the Boeing IMAX Theater's giant six-story wrap-around screen.
Cirque du Soleil is a performance theater that combines circus arts, dance, music and imagery to communicate different stories. The company originated in 1984 and is based in Montreal. Unlike other circuses, Cirque du Soleil relies only on the energy and skills of human beings and does not utilize animals in any of its productions.
Filmed on location at various natural and historical landmarks around the world, "Journey of Man" traces the stages of human development from birth through adulthood, with each stage introduced by a Cirque du Soleil act.
Beginning with the resounding boom of a massive bass drum, the initial heartbeats of life are heard as the Universal Child appears. This Taiko drumming (an ancient style of drum playing originating in Japan) symbolizes the early stages of humankind. As the drums beat louder, the infant plunges through a beam of light and into water, preparing for his journey within this essence of life. Artists from "O," the first Cirque du Soleil venture into aquatic theater, assist the infant in his underwater experience. Synchronized swimmers perform an inspiring aquatic ballet, making impressive and fluid underwater formations.
From here, the scene changes to the dense foliage of the redwood forests where childhood officially begins. From the child's point of view, everything and everyone is bigger than life itself. The child meets a pair of Flounes, part clown and part Shaman, who help him on his journey and serve as his instincts throughout his life. In the forest, he encounters a half-human Giant Stork, a creeping Double Face and a series of colorful characters, which cause him to react with emotions of joy, fear, courage and wonder. Extraordinary yellow bird-like creatures, called Bungees, perform an incredible aerial ballet and the child watches them in wonderment. This act relies on enormous upper-body strength and exact precision of movement and has been a Cirque du Soleil favorite of audiences worldwide.
The journey continues through youth and into adulthood, finally ending in the child becoming a mature man, realizing the keys to life: dreams, faith and love. He has finally found wisdom and has recaptured the joy of his youth.
"Journey of Man" is a magical experience for all ages, with beautiful images utilizing the surreal elements of Cirque du Soleil. Fans of this theater group know, however, that the live stage experience of a Cirque du Soleil show is both visceral and interactive, as well as a feast for the senses. In translating these components to the screen, some of them are lost, but still a sense of magic is retained, through the wizardry of 3D technology.
"Cirque du Soleil Journey of Man" runs through the summer. For more information call (206) 443-2001 or visit the Pacific Science Center's Web site at www.pacsci.org.