9.2/10
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North of Superior (1971)

A fast-paced portrait depicting the iconic rugged Canadian landscape and wildlife of north-western Ontario, as well as highlighting the diverse lifestyles of the area's inhabitants, North ... See full summary »

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A fast-paced portrait depicting the iconic rugged Canadian landscape and wildlife of north-western Ontario, as well as highlighting the diverse lifestyles of the area's inhabitants, North of Superior was the first motion picture shot entirely full-frame in the giant screen IMAX format.

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Short | Documentary

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22 May 1971 (Canada)  »

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1.44 : 1
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One of the first Imax films, still one of the best
28 December 2006 | by See all my reviews

Ultimately, this is a travelogue of Ontario north of Lake Superior, a thinly populated area of enormous forests, ancient rocks and long, cold winters. An Ontario-themed Imax movie was needed for the opening of the new Ontario Place park in Toronto in 1971 (which featured the Cinesphere, the worlds first permanent Imax theatre), and North of Superior was the result. Despite being shot in the early seventies, most of the images within it are timeless, and could just as easily have been filmed in the same places today. Like most Imax films, it is shot to thrill the audience with images that convey the impression of motion as well as any medium I've ever seen. Some Imax films seem like just a collection of spectacular images meant to show off this effect and nothing more, but North of Superior (like the best of the Imax films) does much more than this. The motion effect is well used to get across the immensity and power of nature in the area (most particularly in the opening and closing scenes, as well as the forest fire sequence), but I think the film would still have an impact without the Imax motion effect. I would dearly love to have a DVD copy, in the unlikely event that such a thing were ever made available.

This wasn't the first Imax film I ever saw, but it had a profound impact on me from the first time I saw in in 1975. The only other Imax film that has ever come close in its impact is "The Dream is Alive" -- which had much more spectacular material to work with. In days past, when admission to the Cinesphere was free with your days admission to Ontario Place, my friends and I would watch this four or five times in a row if they would let us. I've never tired of the images it offers, perfectly complemented on the soundtrack by Bill Houston's "Ojibway Country", the words of which are a perfect fit for what's on the screen. If I wanted to give someone a quick introduction to what Northern Ontario is really like, or to convey how effective Imax can be as cinema, I don't think I could do it better than to have them see "North of Superior".


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