Cirque Du Soleil: Journey Of Man

2000, Movie, G, 38 mins


The IMAX-3D format provides a breathtaking showcase for the colorful, eerie, dance-tinged gymnastics for which Cirque du Soleil performers are justly famous. It's unfortunate that these remarkable feats of discipline and artistry are couched in the form of a hokey, more-than-a-little-annoying mystical journey of self-discovery. But the framing device can't dull the beauty of the troupe's precisely choreographed and performed acts. In between the birth of a guileless boy (accompanied by throbbing Taiko drummers) and his rediscovery in old age of his childlike sense of wonder, Cirque du Soleil performers demonstrate extraordinary feats of coordination and physical daring. The standouts include a six-person underwater ballet (Sylvie Frechette, Heather Stanley, Isabelle Thomas, Kari Kreitzer, Susannah Bianco and Jill Sabrina Suddoth) and the "statue act," in which a couple (Yves Decoste, Marie-Laure Mesnage) painted to resemble marble perform wonderful, slow-motion feats of balance and partnering. Also striking is the sequence in which six performers costumed like exotic yellow birds use bungee cords to execute high-speed leaps that evoke both the wonder of flight and the primordial fear of falling. CGI effects are used in some sequences, mostly to erase mechanical devices that detract from the illusion of magical freedom: a lighting rig from the bungee act, guy-wires in the routine in which a giant metal-frame cube is manipulated in mid-air by Mikhail Matorin. But most of the troupe's remarkable feats are pure celebrations by highly trained performers who use a combination of athleticism and artistry to explore the ability of the human body to twist and glide and work in concert with other bodies. No film is a substitute for live performance, but it's a dazzling experience nonetheless. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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