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Secrets of the past January 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.

IMAX’s ‘Greece’ sparks desire to learn more

The IMAX film opening at the Louisville Science Center manages to cram bits of cultural history, tantalizing archaeology, geological science and spectacular scenery into its 45-minute running time.

Given that the theme of “Greece: Secrets of the Past” is that much of Western civilization’s worldview came from the brief flourishing of Athenian culture, less than a century between 500 and 400 B.C., this telescoping of detail is probably appropriate. Perhaps the best thing about the movie is that it should stimulate viewers to find out more about Greek civilization. At the very least it should inspire travel plans to the Greek islands.

Nothing captures remarkable vistas like the IMAX camera, and the quality of the light on the dramatic Greek landscape is one of the treats in the film. You may have heard that the crystal clarity of the air snaps the iridescent blue of the seas and the dazzling white of stone from which Greek cities are built into sharp relief. If you haven’t been to Greece, this is the next best way to experience that dramatic visual effect.

The film follows an archaeologist and a geologist as they explore the demise of a town on the island of Santorini. The archaeologist and his team are painstakingly reconstructing murals that were shattered when the island’s volcano erupted and buried the city. An unresolved mystery is what happened to the inhabitants. No traces of human remains, such as those from Pompeii, have been found. The geologist helps reconstruct the timeline of the volcano’s eruption and it may be that the island dwellers had time to escape by boat.

Realistic computer-generated graphics reproduce the force of the volcano’s blast. As dramatic, but moving rather than terrifying, is the computer regeneration of the Parthenon. Having been struck dumb by the beauty of the curiously lifelike Parthenon Marbles, now housed at the British Museum in London, which once decorated the Parthenon, I found its reconstruction especially fascinating. The building was a temple to Athena. The 40-foot statue of the goddess that it housed is reproduced in the film as well.

“Greece” also drops hints about how the Golden Age of Athens echoes through our own culture, such contributions as philosophy, democracy, a manageable alphabet and science. The Science Center doesn’t have a special exhibit complementing the film, but it could do a great service to intrigued viewers by stocking Thomas Cahill’s “Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter.”

Opens: Tomorrow at 11 a.m.; 1, 3, 5, 7 p.m. at the Louisville Science Center, 727 W. Main St. For further showtimes, call (502) 561-6100 or visit www.LouisvilleScience.org.
Admission: A ticket to the film alone is $8 for adults and $7 for seniors, students and children ages 2 to 12. Combination tickets to the Museum and the film are $13 and $10.

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