After witnessing a polar bear mother protect her two cubs--in 3D--from dangers posed by ever-changing elements in the Arctic wilderness, To the Arctic narrator Meryl Streep suggests that mankind do a better job of mothering the region's wildlife by doing what we can to slow down glaciers and ice fields melting due to global warming.
That message was projected on the large IMAX screen at Irvine Spectrum Saturday, where Laguna Beach filmmaker Greg MacGillivray unveiled his fascinating nature movie, which opens April 20 in time for Earth Day, to its largest crowds so far.
The co-founder of MacGillivray Freeman Films and Oscar-nominated producer and director, whose son Shaun MacGillivray produced To the Arctic, informs the G-rated film is among the first efforts of a 20-year campaign undertaken by the One World One Ocean Foundation "to get people to fall in love with oceans of the world so they can protect them."
To get the 40 minutes of footage an audience filled with families received warmly took five trips over 6 years to the region that encircles the North Pole and where temperatures can drop to 30-below. Four years alone were spent photographing stills, while the actual movie shoot lasted eight months. Greg MacGillivray sounded as if he'd do it all over again.
To the Arctic opens with a stunning CGI sequence from visual effect producer Matthew Muller that drew audible "woos." It sets your eyes up for a magnificent 3D aerial view of sheer ice cliffs punctuated by a series of waterfalls that create a beautiful vista but also demonstrate the profound shrinkage of the habitat for wildlife and the Inuit people.
There are too many jaw-dropping visual sequences to recount here, but among the most amazing is an underwater shot of an adult bear swimming from one ice floe to another.
Part of it is captured at the beginning of the movie's trailer:
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The audience is informed the distances between chunks of frozen seawater are growing longer and longer, and more polar bears are dying trying to make the swims. The habitat degradation has so threatened food sources for the bear community that starving adult males often resort to hunting for cubs, as is witnessed in another startling passage.
But To the Arctic is not entirely a downer, thanks to welcome scenes of comic relief, writer/editor Stephen Judson's punchy script, composer Steve Woods' bouncy score and uplifting songs from Paul McCartney.
Maybe you'll be amazed.
To the Arctic opens April 20 at the Irvine Spectrum IMAX theater.