Whales: An
Unforgettable Journey

directed by David Clark,
Al Giddings & Roger Payne
(IMAX, 1997)

An IMAX movie is an experience unto itself. Transferring such a gigantic production to the small screen carries a cost, without question. But Whales translates well, remaining visually stunning and informative.

It's a documentary, so prepare to learn about the massive, yet elusive blue whale, the buoyant, playful right whale, the inquisitive dolphins and porpoises, the singing humpbacks and the fearsome killers.

Patrick Stewart provides narration, and his sonorous monologue offers plenty of information without ever becoming tedious in the process. Various whale experts, including famed researcher and co-director Roger Payne, add fascinating details to the lesson.

But the highest praise goes without question to the camera teams who captured so much vivid life -- the mysteries and majesty -- on film. Even shrunk to a television screen, the pictures here are gorgeously beautiful, filled with color and action. Some images, particularly of the humpbacks, are so breathtaking it's hard to believe the whales weren't in on the plan. It's simply awe-inspiring.

On the DVD, a 17-minute behind-the-scenes documentary details the process of the production. The particulars of an IMAX production are very different than other filmmaking techniques, and it makes for an interesting segment.

Overall, Whales is a thoroughly enjoyable learning experience that should please viewers young and old.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 13 April 2002

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