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A young Russian boy, Thomas Minton, travels to New York as a passenger on a Russian freighter. Close to Ellis Island he gets off and thus starts his journey to America the same way as all immigrants in former times. Thomas is searching for the family of one of his ancestors, who had emigrated decades ago, but once sent a letter home together with a sample of his new profession: 3D-Photography. The boy follows his relative's traces by counter-checking the old 3D-Photographs of New York (using an antique viewer) with the same places and how they look today. This way, the audience gets to see the Big Apple in former times as well as today. Written by
Julian Reischl <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A grand scale IMAX 3D mini-epic blending state of the art monochrome 3D still photography from 1916, with stunning full-colour 3D motion and surround sound from 1995.
The story is obviously contrived to make optimum use of the archival material: a young Russian boy, Tomas Minton, travels "blind" (i.e. in a room with no view) by ship to New York, and jumps ship to search for a relative who emigrated early in the century. That man had found paid work as a specialist 3D photographer and had sent home a viewer and a set of his slides which showed many aspects of 1916 New York life. Tomas routinely refers to this collection of pictures as he wanders the city trying to find recognisable landmarks in the modern skyline.
(N.B. The World Trade Centre doesn't get any special attention, if it appears at all.)
The 1916 images are extraordinarily detailed, fully justifying the IMAX big screen and we see a lot more than just the facade of skyscrapers, or the tinsel of Broadway. I am never likely to see New York in person, so I was impressed by all of the visuals.
Director Stephen Low takes advantage of opportunities to push people's 3D response buttons, but it's not done excessively. The overall impact is of a very big city, with a personal history of endurance in the face of hardship, and with many elements of true beauty in its landscape and architecture.
There's a rather natty but very unlikely happy ending, instead of the most likely event of Tomas being grabbed by Immigration and thrown on the first plane back to Russia (proving that this really is a work of fiction).
Brisbane's IMAX theatre closes down this month, after consistently losing money since it opened. I feel especially privileged to have been able to experience this film in the world's biggest and best of movie theatre environments.
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