Total cinema for your home theatre - Part 1

In this series I will look at some of the best films that will showcase your new high-definition, wide screen home theater system to its fullest. Films you may not have considered before but are truly awe-inspiring in their scale, beauty and clarity. From a select number of conventional Hollywood big budget films to BBC Wildlife documentaries to IMAX and 3D documentaries and finally computer animation. Whatever your home theater system, these movies will wow your guests. For the cinema purist with a high-definition home system, blu-ray disc is the format of choice when viewing any of these films. (see sidebar for movies being released in blu-ray format)

‘Sound is at least 50% of the experience’. Anyone who has a home theater knows that when it comes to enjoying movies to their full immersive potential, just how true that statement is. To experience a movie the way it was intended by the film makers it is essential to have a surround sound system. The best sound systems not only give you the big sounds in a big way but also reproduce the silences and softest sounds with absolute clarity. Effects heavy films are especially good for taking advantage of the new home theater technology to give one the closest experience that matches the cinematic. But there is also another type of movie that showcases the potential of the home theater system even more beautifully.

Non-verbal visual documentaries are filmed in the most exotic and sometimes isolated locations around the world and accompanied by only an eclectic soundtrack of music and natural sound. With no story or dialogue, the awe-inspiring images take on a profound and heightened sense of wonder, while at the same time showing our destructive impact on the planet.

These films are a small niche sub-genre within the documentary genre made by only a hand full of very dedicated, independent film makers. People you have probably never heard of but sound vaguely familiar, people who have, with their visions, influenced many conventional filmmakers and television commercials. These people want to make you think about what you’re watching and you can see something new with every viewing. These films are timelier now than ever and have lost none of their significance.

People who watch these movies rarely see them only once. The timelessness, pure beauty and thought provoking nature of these movies makes people want to see them over and over again. There are people who have reportedly watched these films 50 or 60 times if not in the hundreds. I consider them must viewing at least once every year.

Godfrey Reggio, Philip Glass, Ron Fricke, Alton Walpole, Mark Magidson, and Lawrence Taub are just some of the people involved in the production of these amazing films.

If you love beautiful cinematography of exotic locations put together in thought provoking ways and accompanied by a broad array of eclectic music, you will love this non-verbal, visual form of Total Cinema, where sound and image is everything. Don’t miss these amazing films.

Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance                       1982       Godfrey Reggio
Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation                      1988       Godfrey Reggio
Naqoyqatsi: Life as War                                       2002       Godfrey Reggio
Anima Mundi                                                         1992       Godfrey Reggio
Chronos                                                                1985       Ron Fricke          
Baraka                                                                 1993       Ron Fricke

The following movies are more silence than sound but are wonderful visual meditations on life.

Into Great Silence is a documentary without narration or a soundtrack and has long scenes of stillness so it can be challenging to watch for the modern audience who is used to a faster paced action packed movie.  But this documentary has its rewards for the patient and curious as it reveals the daily life of monks living in what must be one of the, if not the most, isolated monasteries in the world.  Nestled high in the French Alps, the Grande Chartreuse monastery of the Carthusian Order - founded by St. Bruno of Cologne in 1084, is completely restricted to outsiders and has some of the most stunning picturesque scenery. Its monks are totally dedicated to the service of God and practice permanent silence. Only after years of persistent requests was the German director Philip Groning finally given permission to film inside the monastery. What is revealed is quite amazing as monks in complete silence go about their daily routines of worship and we are shown a world untouched by technology and stunning beauty.

Babies is another excellent documentary with very little dialogue and no soundtrack as it follows four babies from four different parts of the world (Kenya, Mongolia, Japan and USA) from birth until they are one year old.  This interesting experiment reveals how different cultures treat and raise their infants and the impact that our environment has on us as we learn to take our first steps. I like this movie because of the interesting differences in cultures and environments, and the different personalities of the babies themselves.

JP

1 comment:

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