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director: Ron Fricke

42 minutes (U) 1985
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Second Sight DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Jim Steel
Ron Fricke was the cinematographer for Koyaanisquatsi, and in many ways Chronos can be regarded as the next step. Many of the same people worked on both films, but its main selling point was that it was filmed in IMAX format, which doesn't really help much in the DVD arena. Its stop-motion photography is stunning to behold, as expected, but if you're not a fan of Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisquatsi, then step away. There's nothing for you here.

Chronos is a lesser film in many ways (not least in length), and its attempt to find a different narrative arc is largely a failure. It grapples with the concept of time but gets off to a wobbly start with its shots of North American scenery. It then cuts to the Old World for its classical and medieval influences before shifting back to America for much of the modern age. Visually perfect but mentally jarring.

Another flaw is the score. Michael Stearns is good but he is no Philip Glass. The score is a continuous surround-sound piece that Fricke worked the images around, apparently, but again it is the photography that we have come to gawk at. There are some truly beautiful shots: Stongehenge by moonlight; the tide coming in at Mont Saint Michel; St Peter's Basilica. There are an amazing number of shots that have been packed into the short running time. Hell, it is worth seeing it for the Egyptian stuff alone. Seeing it in IMAX must just knock people on their backs. But tying it to the IMAX format has meant that Fricke has been unable to find and use such things as the falling Saturn rocket that so poignantly caps Koyaanisquatsi.

Do the flaws matter? Ultimately, no� It's the kind of film that you'll put on and watch over and over. It takes you out of yourself, which we all need every now and again. DVD extras include a commentary by Fricke, Stearns and production manager Alton Warpole, a documentary (learn all about Stearn's musical beam!), and location subtitles (believe me, you'll use them at some stage).

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