Legends of Flight

By Gary Rusak The audience is put in the pilot’s seat for the new IMAX film Legends of Flight, a documentary look at the development of Boeing’s new crown jewel 787 ...
September 24, 2010

By Gary Rusak

The audience is put in the pilot’s seat for the new IMAX film Legends of Flight, a documentary look at the development of Boeing’s new crown jewel 787 Dreamliner.

The film, which is set for wide IMAX distribution in the U.S. and international markets throughout this year and 2011, is the latest effort from Canadian filmmaker Stephen Low. It opens today (September 24th) at the Shopper’s Drug Mart Omnimax Theatre at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Canada.

An apt choice for the large format, the film soars when it focuses on the philosophy that guided the two-year development process of the US$100 million plus aircraft.

Utilizing new Stereoscopic Animation Drawing Device Animation (SANDDE), developed by IMAX co-founder Roman Kroitor, the film deftly illustrates the design process that Captain Mike Carriker and his team at Boeing followed to re-think modern day flight. The animation enables Carriker to draw in space, his freeform drawing animated before the audience’s eyes and then superimposed upon the final result. Thus, the very technical nature of the material is cleanly and thoroughly explained through the animation process and segues nicely into the most powerful segments of the film, those of flight high above the picturesque mountain ranges and ocean of the Pacific Northwest.

The IMAX scale perfectly dramatizes the scenery and mixes nicely with the soundtrack that uses Bart Howard’s pop classic Fly Me to the Moon as a recurring motif. The soundtrack’s light touch works well as a counterpoint to the denser scientific theories about flight that serve to propel the film forward.

Unfortunately, things go a tad off course in the narrative. The process of building the plane itself is a bit muddied by the parallel explanations of the development of a competing airliner, the Airbus A380. The audience is left a bit confused as to the timeline and construction of the two massive aircrafts. As well, the IMAX scale could have been utlized to better detail the advantages of the consumers who will one day fly on the Dreamliner; its quieter cabin, reduced air pressure and increased window sizes.

The misgivings are few, however, as the film delivers on exactly what the audience expects from the experience; breathtaking visuals, clear and concise technical information and that indescribable feeling of flight.

Legends of Flight is part of the LG Film Series and was produced by Pietro L. Serapiglia and executive produced by K2 Communications, in association with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.