Ossus Library Index Fantasy Movie Index

JOURNEY OF MAN
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL

Directed by Keith Melton (2000, Sony Pictures Classics)
Narrated by Ian McKellen

A series of circus acts, framed as a boy growing up, gaining desire, and realising that he lost his childhood.

 

 

3 stars

June 3rd, 2000 on the IMAX screen  
   

The stunts were great, but nothing like being there.  The frame of the boy growing into a man, however, didn't work, and some of the effects were poorly done, as well.  The boy was there to connect all the images, but I'm not sure they needed it. 

The best part of the whole show was the opening.  The drum beating, and the native sounds were spectacular.  It was terrific just to be subjected to the sounds.  And that was when the boy was born. 

The infant grows into a boy in the ocean, where some impressive swimmers do underwater synchro.  I wonder how many takes it required to keep their breath held all that time.  But only the best are selected for the Cirque. 

Moving on, the boy is ejected (in a neat sequence) from the ocean into the jungle.  There he grows a little more, and encounters his childhood guardians, his imaginary friends.  The trapeze artists appear, and they are probably my next favorite part.  The directing here was really good.  Different views showed us how they looked from all angles, something not possible on the stage.  They pull the boy up and fling him into the desert mountains.

There, he is a young teen, and he is in awe of a man who can juggle a giant cube made of bars.  The lighting is such that it looks like the cube is moving faster than he could possibly keep up with.  It is impressive, nonetheless.  I don't know if this was intentional, but when the juggler takes to the sky, the cable that holds him is readily visible. 

On to a pond in the middle of a field of trees, where two marble statues perform incredible acts.  The makeup here was superb, as they looked completely marble.  They held each other up, and molded into each others' bodies.  It all took place in what seemed like slow motion, and drew a great reaction. 

That's when the boy decides he must own so many works of art.  I thought he would have the statues in his mansion, but I didn't see them anywhere in the next sequence. 

A group of ragged street performers burst into his massive halls, which are glittered in gold and jewels.  He shuns them at first, but then begins to enjoy himself.  As usual, the performers were great.  I know their stunts are not effects, because I've seen similar things done on stage.  Masters at their craft. 

And the little girl shows him what his childhood was like, and he renounces his riches, and embraces the circus.  His childhood imaginary friends reappear, along with his teddy bear.

All throughout, the special effects didn't seem to work properly.  Cables were visible, and sets looked like sets.  That is not a problem with normal circus acts, but when the movie is taking itself as seriously as this one was, it makes a difference.  The empathy with the character is lost.  And at the end, the lip synching was terrible.  It just occurred to me that perhaps the original version was done in French.  That would explain the lips. 

But I must go out on a high note.  Each and every one of the performers were mesmerizing.  The acts were spectacular.  They were all on cue (except for one of the trapeze artists, and perhaps one or two swimmers), and did their stunts with what appeared to be much ease.  I want to go see the real thing now!

 
   

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