Journey Worlds Away with Cirque du Soleil
- Susan Ellingburg Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- Updated Apr 16, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 12, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: December 21, 2012
Rating: Rated PG for some dramatic images and mild sensuality
Run Time: 91 minutes
Director: Andrew Adamson
Actors: Erica Linz, Dallas Barnett and Lutz Halbhubner
From the big top to the big screen: it’s Cirque du Soleil... as a movie. The millions of fans who have seen and loved Cirque shows in person will likely be fascinated by this opportunity to get an up close view of the aerial ballet. Unwary viewers who wander into the theater expecting a normal movie—the kind with a plot and dialogue—will likely be disappointed. That is, unless they’re drawn in by the amazing acrobatics, fantastic lighting, gorgeous cinematography, immersive 3D, and just-on-the-edge-of-creepy mood of the piece.
For the few people on the planet who haven’t heard of Cirque du Soleil, the company describes themselves as “a dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment.” With touring shows around the world and permanent gigs in Vegas, the opportunity to see them live abounds... at a price. For those who aren’t sure they want to shell out the big bucks for a live performance, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away offers a budget-friendly introduction to the spectacle.
To be fair, there is a semblance of a plot and maybe two dozen words of dialogue. An Audrey Hepburn-esque girl (Erica Linz) strolls into a travelling circus. (Decidedly not the Ringling Brothers variety; this circus has a seedier, more sinister quality.) She spots a handsome young lad (Igor Zaripov)... their eyes meet... sparks fly... then alas, they’re separated. Shortly thereafter both fall (separately) down a hole a la Alice in Wonderland and the rest of the film is pretty much “girl trying to find boy” while wandering through a patchwork of scenes from seven Las Vegas Cirque shows. Linz has a lovely waif-like appeal; even without the benefit of words she manages to communicate with her expressive eyes. I found myself rooting for her to find her young man and when she finally does their joy is expressed in a lovely, lyrical number that was sweetly romantic.
It may not be much of a plot, but for sheer spectacle it’s hard to beat the antics of Cirque performers. Part circus act, part gymnastics, part water ballet, and part something that’s hard to describe, there’s nothing quite like it. The close up camera angles, coupled with stellar use of 3D, put the viewer right in the middle of the action. Watching an entire human dangle in mid-air from another acrobat’s foot, run lightly across an enormous spinning wheel, or spin like a human pinball on a giant slanted board is even more amazing when you can see the strain exerted on even superbly-toned muscles.
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away is rated PG but I’d suggest leaving the kids at home. I can’t imagine most children having the patience to sit through the entire film. I got antsy after about an hour; regardless of how cool the physical feats are, the disjointed feel of the show got old. Then there’s the costume aspect: several people in the circus are shown in what amounts to skimpy underwear (and they don’t all have gymnasts’ figures). The nature of their work means many wear what amounts to a body stocking; there are several close ups of their most intimate parts—not in a sensuous way, but when people are folding themselves like human origami, there are bound to be some interesting angles presented to the camera. The giant (clearly fake) snake and fighting scenes might be a little much for gentle viewers, too. But budding gymnasts will love it—though parents may have trouble keeping them from trying some of the stunts at home.
The look and feel of the film is deliciously moody; just creepy enough without going too far. The 3D is exceptional, too, adding depth to the show so it really does feel like you’re suspended on a high wire with the performers, minus any fear of falling. It’s not for the average viewer, but if you’re looking for something different this holiday season, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away may be just what the sad clown ordered.
- Drugs/Alcohol: None.
- Language/Profanity: No discernible profanity; some of the few words in the film are spoken harshly, some in what might be a foreign language.
- Sex/Nudity: Many characters are scantily clad (though all the important bits are mostly covered). Many others wear costumes that are basically multi-colored second skin; we get several close ups of intimate areas during the course of the show, though not for sensual effect.
- Violence/Disturbing: Sideshow performer hammers a nail into her nose. A man is set on fire, though apparently this doesn’t bother him. Performers are shot with arrows and fall off a cliff-like thing; stick-fighting; character gets punched in the face. Characters are chained, ganged up on, and placed inside a large basket. People resembling giant bugs emerge from the ground and act menacing. Personally, I found the disembodied bunny head that hops upside down on its ears and the abused ‘test your strength’ machine the most unsettling.
- Spiritual Themes: The show falls into the ‘fantasy’ genre for good reason; after the first few minutes nothing much resembles any sort of reality. In one segment performers stack themselves into something that resembles a multi-limbed Eastern god.
*This Review First Published 12/20/2012