IMAX Journey to the South Pacific
Runtime 40 minutes.
OK for children.
Filming in IMAX is horribly expensive. The projector alone costs $2 million. Each camera costs $500 thousand. I don’t know how the economics justify the costs, especially for a 40 minute film like this, but the result is mind-boggling.
Filming in IMAX results in 10 times the information one gets on a standard 35mm film. While digital is rapidly replacing film, digital photography will not get the clarity and sharpness presently produced by IMAX for at least five years. The first IMAX film was produced 32 years ago and it is still playing at a Museum in Washington DC.
This film is simply stunning. The color is so sharp and bright the scenes are hypnotic. But it is not just the color that makes IMAX unique. The screen is so huge that it captures a lot more images than just the main one being found. As a result, it gives the viewer the liberty to look around the screen and see other things going on rather than just the primary subject. There is no other visual medium that gives such a clarity of image providing the viewer the sensation of actually being there.
The story told here is about Jawi, a 13-year-old West Papuan Island boy who takes a journey on the Kalabia, a real-life ship, called a floating classroom, throughout the West Papuan archipelago, the point of which is to teach him and the others on the ship how to protect its still pristine coral reef, which contains more than 500 species of coral and 2,000 species of marine life, more ocean diversity than anywhere on earth.
This 40 minute film is 100 times more entertaining and fascinating than sitting through a three-hour Martin Scorsese extravaganza, and 1,000 times more worthwhile.
According to director Greg MacGillivray, many of the creatures captured by his cameras were “happy accidents.” Specifically there are the giant leatherback turtles that showed up, literally out of the blue. These turtles had swum six thousand miles to lay their eggs and they happened to arrive the same time that MacGillivray was shooting.
He was aware that rare 40-foot whale sharks often cavorted in the area and for a few days he had his cameras where they were sometimes spotted, not really expecting to see them. However the last day he went to that area one was spotted, then another, then a whole school. He encouraged Jawi to swim among them. Even though they are not man-eating sharks, they are so huge that a stroke of a tail could cause serious injury. Jawi was dubious, but finally dove in among them, and the scenes of Jawi interacting with the huge creatures are magical.
Narrated by Cate Blanchett the photography overwhelms the interesting story. For every foot of film that found its way into the final print, MacGillivray shot 30 feet. To put it another way, less than three percent of what he shot was used in the final cut. He utilized six cameras (that’s $3 million right there) among four photographic teams, one in a helicopter, two diving, and one on the ground.
Both my guest and I commented on how happy all the Papuans who appear in the film seem and Macgillvray even said that he has never seen people so happy. And why not? From what this film shows, they live in paradise and are smart enough to realize it.
The colors of the reef and hundreds of different species of fish are so varied and gorgeous that it leaves you crying for more. I rarely want to see movies more than once, but I can’t wait to see this one again.