It occurred to me recently that I must be one of the only people in the universe who’s never been to a Cirque du Soleil live show.
I’ve never really been a fan of the circus – other than a brief stage in my childhood when a series of books about joining the circus had me itching to live in a caravan. Now I know Cirque du Soleil is not your typical dodgy clowns and drunken ringmaster sort of show, but I have to admit I’ve never really seen the allure of going to one of the live shows.
When I was offered tickets to Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D movie, however, I figured it was time to break my circus-going cherry.
I had no idea what to expect. I’d purposely avoided other reviews and only read the brief blurb about the movie before going. I knew therefore, that the storyline centred around a circus-goer and a trapeze artist (aerialist) – the former following the latter into some alternate universe (as he slips from the high wire/swing thingy). I also knew it featured minimal dialogue – something people sometimes appreciate knowing in advance!
Firstly, the movie is beautiful. The product of a collaboration between 3D guru James Cameron and Andrew Adamson (Shrek, Narnia) it’s a perfect movie to show in 3D because there is so bloody much happening. The sets and staging are amazing. I cannot even imagine what CdS’s budget is like.
Because the film combines six of CdS’s Las Vegas shows, our starry-eyed circus-goer wanders from ‘world’ to ‘world’, the first undoubtedly being my favourite with performers leaping in and out of a large in-stage pool; complemented by amazing trapeze artists. Bizarrely it was the simple things which took my breath away – the splashing water in 3D was just phenomenal.
All of the aerial artists were phenomenal, the only downside being that there’s SO much going on and so much of it that by the end I was a bit ‘meh’ during the death-defying feats.
I’m usually a bit creeped-out by contortionists but a group of women and then an individual later (in a very cute little ball-shaped pool which I would like to have on my deck) were gobsmackingly good.
As I’m not used to the shows I was a bit bewildered that so much is happening at once. Although I have a bit of an ADD mind myself I felt sorry that some feats (such as a guy who ran and jumped and hand-walked on top of a rotating cylinder thing – like the Zipper from my old show-going days) didn’t get a lot of kudos cos we were already moving onto the next thing.
I can’t imagine what Cirque de Soleil would be like to see live. The best thing about the film is that much of it was in slow-motion so you actually got to see the amazingness of the artists’ moves. It’s impossible not to be awed at the complexity of the routines.
Because the film was a combination of six different shows, with some additional footage (and storyline) mixed in, it didn’t really mesh for me.
After I saw the movie I read a review raving about the Beatles music, whereas I found the sudden move from theatrical style orchestral music to upbeat Beatles and Elvis a bit incongruous and disconcerting. I think the transition from world to world could have been a bit more seamless and (interestingly for me) more obvious. The artistry of the actual CdS shows is so brilliant I think the storyline deserved more attention, as opposed to it being an afterthought – which is how I perceived it.
The other downside for me is that you KNOW nothing bad is going to happen. I’m pretty sure part of the allure of a live show or circus is that fear that someone may fall. Using footage from stage shows pretty much guarantees that the best bits have been gathered, with imperfections lying on the editing room floor.
I found the female lead, Erica Linz kinda bewitching. Her entire body and facial expressions narrated the story. The former CdS performer-turned-actress was mesmerising. I did however, find the lead male (our Aerialist, Igor Zaripov) less interesting – while his artistry was impressive, his presence was less-so for me.
I did expect – I must confess – a circular ending and was surprised the film finished when it did. I won’t go into detail – though it’s hardly a film where I can ruin the end, but I did think we’d return to where we started. Whether that’s the control freak in me who needs ‘closure’ I don’t know.
Rather than sharing a movie trailer I wanted to share this short clip featuring the show’s star, Erica Linz. Not only does the clip feature some of the amazing acts from the show but it takes us behind the scenes. Plus… watching Erica stretch is just kinda freaky (and I mean that in the nicest possible way!).
I’d recommend the movie to lovers of Cirque du Soleil, stage shows, ballet and the like. My own niece is a good contemporary dancer so I was delighted to see exquisite and skilled movements from all cast members. I was also amazed at the sheer number of performers. I’d suggest seeing the film in 3D while you can as it gives you a rare opportunity to actually feel the experience and offers an intimacy missing from your usual seat in row Y of a large sterile venue.
I received a complimentary double pass from Paramount Pictures and Way to Blue to see this movie. There has been no compensation or other incentive offered to write a favorable review. All opinions expressed in this space are mine, written with the objective of giving readers my personal opinion on the film.
Are you a circus fan?
Have you seen Cirque du Soleil – either live or at the cinema?