Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away" really takes us to other worlds

The special 3-D film “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away” is being scheduled in a picky fashion, being shown only at noon. 7 PM or midnight at any theater.  I’m not sure if that has anything to do with unusual connections to the Paramount studio’s computer servers. The film seems to have an unusual format for projection (dual strip 3D). It is in regular 1.85:1 aspect, and the 3D use is temperate, giving the film a look that recalls Paramount’s old VistaVision.  I think the result is as good as with the faster frame speed in “Hobbit” (Dec. 17). 

But this is a a real movie, not just a transmission of a stage circus.  As the film opens, a young woman Mia (Erica Linz) watches a train pass in a small town and the enters the Cirque big top. A handsome aerialist (Igor Zaripov) is rehearsing, misses a catch and falls to the sand pit below.  Fortunately, it has enough give to protect him from injury.  But he sinks in to the pit, and Mia chases him.  She finds herself in quicksand (well, that happens in “The Artist”), and then, at the base of some shapeless stage pit, on the shores of endless worlds.  She begins a migration among different worlds, which are supposed to be associated with the various tents (but also to specific resorts in Las Vegas and to specific shows).  She passes among them seamlessly, as if the worlds were among the “reconciled Dominions” of Clive Barker’s Imajica.  Each world has a geography and creatures (Cirque acrobats) who are more or less like people (or extraterrestrials).  The geography is three-dimensional and sometimes has rotational aspects which give it even more dimensions (rather like those of string theory).  Often, there is water,  but that doesn’t prevent one character from being set on fire. (Maybe it’s liquid methane, like on Titan.)  Soon the Aerialist is making the rounds too, as he looks to unite with her. In one scene, he dives into what looks like a model of Venus, only to find it is a sphere of water (that is, a super earth covered with an ocean), and migrates to the next tent-world that way.  Both the young woman and aerialist seem to be challenged to pass "tests" as part of a rite of passage required before they can be reconciled together.

The dance music (by Benoit Jutras) is usually in quadruple meters, and becomes post-romantic, leading to a great climax as the movie ends when the couple is united.   There is one odd image that follows with the aerialist, and I’m not sure what it “means” (other than the idea that the various tents and planet-worlds represent “challenges” for the two characters). The music in closing credits then seems like a let down (although it revisits some Beatles and other pop stars).

The official site is here. The film (made in New Zealand) shows more effects than would be conceivable in any stage or ring presentation.  It is directed by Andrew Anderson, and James Cameron is one of the producers. 

The “drama” blog has discussion of Cirque du Soleil on Oct. 6. 2012 and Nov. 1, 2008.  

Wikipedia attribution link for exoplanet Gliese 667 C, 21 light years from Earth, one of the tent worlds. 

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