Movie review of Cirque du Soleil - Journey of Man

Friday, June 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Cirque du Soleil and IMAX-3D are a merger of divine inspiration, utilized to spectacular effect in "Journey of Man."

The visually stunning IMAX-3D film is nothing if not ambitious, attempting an allegory that traces the evolution of humankind in 38 minutes. The innovative, flawlessly graceful French-Canadian acrobatic troupe fulfills those ambitions beautifully. Never before has the "reach-out-and-touch" sensation of IMAX been so wondrous.

The movie wobbles only slightly under the weight of unnecessary narration. Although spoken with droll majesty by Ian McKellen, the words simply underscore what is already apparent through the exquisite actions of the Cirque du Soleil.

Directed by Keith Melton, who must be equal measures choreographer, ringmaster and f/x wizard, "Journey of Man" features striking tableaux brought to vibrant life. An explosion of light, enhanced by the pounding of various percussions, represents creation. A beautiful, spectacular aquatic ballet symbolizes the infant's emergence from the waters of the womb, while a fascinating redwood forest sequence evokes both the wonder and security of happy early childhood.

The questing, adventurous spirit of adolescence is seen against the background of a canyon with seductive, possibly dangerous curves. Adulthood is richly represented by two beautiful statues, male and female, who come to visually rich life in the midst of a lush formal garden. This scene is performed by Yves Decoste and Marie-Laure Mesnage with unforgettable vigor, grace and imagination.

A gold hat comes to symbolize the materialistic greed that tempts many adult lives, while the potential peace of old age is represented by a return to the happy images of childhood and youth.

The storyline occasionally seems simplistic, but the 38-minute running time doesn't allow much time for psychological exploration. What counts are the visuals, and they are magnificent.