Film Review: Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away

| 21 February , 2013 | Reply

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Directed by: Andrew Adamson
Written by:  Andrew Adamson
Starring: Igor Zaripov and Erica Kathleen Linz
Sassi’s Star Rating: 2/5

When I first heard that the amazing Cirque Du Soleil was making a 3D movie I was excited. I imagined the vast potential of a film interpretation of the work of this innovative performance troupe. Visionary filmmaker James Cameron speaks of approaching Cirque’s management and painting a picture for them. He told them about the possibilities of making a film using the same 3D technology he used for Avatar.


Enter Academy Award®-nominated director and writer Andrew Adamson and Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away is born. The press release describes a film where two young people “journey through the astonishing and dreamlike worlds of Cirque du Soleil to find each other as audiences experience the immersive 3D technology that allows them to leap, soar, swim and dance with the performers.” What a fabulous concept, and one that promised to allow the wonders of Cirque du Soleil to reach an even wider audience.


The film unfolds like a degustation menu; a sampler of what is on offer at six different live Cirque shows. Adamson has invented the story about two separated lovers in order to provide a very basic framework for the film, thus allowing him to include a showcase of tried and tested acts. These acts have been plucked from the following Cirque performances: “O,” KÀ, Mystère, Viva ELVIS, Zumanity and The Beatles LOVE. It does not appear that the music has been changed to create some sort of flow for the film either, as it seemed unusual to progress from the more traditional sound of certain Cirque classics, through to Elvis and The Beatles.


The film stars Cirque du Soleil strap aerialists Igor Zaripov (The Aerialist) and Erica Linz (Mia) as the young couple. They are highly skilled in their craft, and apply the same style of acting one would see at a live Cirque show. There is no dialogue, except in one scene where we hear Mia say “help.” It is not the sort of acting that the film audience can really engage with. The presence of these two characters is superfluous to the whole idea of this film. They simply serve as linking agents for the acts.


The film audience needs an engaging plot or some character development in order to identify with a story. In a live Cirque show, the amazing thrill of the performance serves up the drama, but in these days of stunning computer generated graphics in film, we are accustomed to watching death defying stunts on the big screen. I had to remind myself to be fascinated by the skill of the performers.


The risk of failure adds to the excitement of a live show. This is not an element in film, as everything is pre-engineered. That’s why a well developed story and a more film-like and less documentary-like approach was needed, in my opinion, to bring Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away to life. It would have translated better to film if a real plot were developed, with real characters. The mind boggles at the possibilities of doing this, especially if one considers what a potent combination James Cameron’s ground breaking technology, Andrew Adamson’s writing and directing prowess, and Cirque Du Soleil’s unique and extreme performance talent could be. It really could have been like nothing we have ever seen before.

A chance for die-hard Cirque Du Soleil fans to see their favourite performance up close; a chance for the rest of us to admire amazing physical feats and also wonder what might have happened if a detailed plot and original material had been used for this film.  

Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away, in cinemas now!






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