Sunday, January 19, 2003

Not every IMAX film is worthy of preservation. This is something I strongly believe since viewing "Grand Canyon, The Hidden Secrets." This was meant to be an informative and travel inspiring DVD for our family; I looked forward to something that gave a thoughtful geologic and natural history narrative with the stunning Canyon for visual interest. Instead we were dragged on a roller coaster ride of collage editing, climax music, 60's-Disneyish history enactments, and a mud scene that was simply uncomfortable and confusing. Periodically we saw the tremendous splendor of the Canyon, and when we muted the pseudo Brit narrator, it was almost engaging.

"A Timeless Adventure, " is printed auspiciously on the box. What needed less time were the half dozen enactments of native canyon dwellers, explorers, more natives, Spaniards on horses, dead natives, and other wayward explorers. It was almost interesting to see the sequence with Powell's 1869 expedition. The Colorado River was fierce, and well presented, but the mumbled and disjointed reading of what were presumably Powell's own impressions were drowned out by the visual magnitude and volume of the rapids.

Between each mini story, the film would suddenly return to the Grand Canyon itself. The camera panned and zoomed, and one hoped we might be offered more. I hoped we might see a map or hear the names of the mesas, buttes, side canyons. What formed the Canyon? Where is the Grand Canyon? Who's driving this car?! No sooner were you considering absorbing the vista, when the camera would turn to a created scene of natives chasing each other, or "49ers" lost on the river. And return of the narrator. Maybe his accent is for real, but why the monotone? Is he in awe, or awesleep?

The editor didn't want anyone to get bored; this is what I am generously assuming. Why else would we be asked to leap from subject to subject without continuity or transition? Rather than hold my interest , the jumping around only served to annoy me. This is one Gen-Xer who doesn't want her geology served on an MTV platter. Were there 4 or more artistic directors, all fighting for control, or was this a concept film from someone left alone in the Canyon for 10 months, with only a bag of stale trail mix for company? But we before we begin to discuss choppy editing...

Let's have a listen to Bill Conti's music. Hear it? Of course you hear it, because it is so grandiose it seeks to overtake the The Grand Canyon and The River. Hang on to your hats, we're heading in to another orchestral orgasm! Anyone unable to recognize natural majesty or sublime beauty needs this soundtrack, because it takes all the guesswork out of discovery. I'm not calling it bad music, but it was distracting. It didn't enhance the scenery, it competed with it.

I would like to apologize to those members of our family who received this DVD from us as a Christmas gift. I was thinking of the quality of "Nature" or "Ken Burns," when I made this purchase. I am sorry.

Well. I could say more, but I'd rather go check my chickens.

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