A Beautiful Planet 3D, the next chapter in IMAX’s space documentary series, provides an educational, visually stunning and often disturbing picture of earth.
It also offers a fascinating insight into the life of astronauts living and working on the International Space Station (ISS), a research lab, training facility and observatory, built in orbit by 16 countries and powered by the sun.
Made in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the film features stunning footage captured by the astronauts aboard the ISS. Digital cameras were used by astronauts on three separate expeditions over a 15 month period. During this time the ISS travelled more than 180 million miles.
Written and directed by IMAX film writer-director ,Toni Myers, and narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, the 45 minute film also features the thoughts of several of the astronauts.
As a result we learn about daily life on board the ISS. We watch the astronauts unpack supplies, prepare meals (including freshly grown lettuce) and even help each other with haircuts. We learn about the challenges involved in performing spacewalks and, although they love their work, see how they strive to keep their spirits up. At Christmas, for example, they wear Santa hats and leave out bags of milk and freeze-dried cookies – confident Santa will find a way into the station!
We also discover the astronauts are very concerned about the impact of global warming. The footage and commentary highlight deforestation in places like Madagascar and the Amazon, the glacial melting in Greenland and the gradual depletion of the Colorado River Basin in the United States.
Most spectacular is the footage shot at night. The film shows the brilliant lights of some of our best-known cities, from Moscow and Tokyo to Rome and Tel Aviv. It also contrasts the differences on the Korean peninsula. The South Korean countryside is lit up, while there are very few lights on in North Korea. The border between Pakistan and India is also very evident at night.
Other highlights include New Zealand without any cloud coverage, Australia’s very red outback and the beautiful aurora borealis, one of the earth’s great natural wonders. The documentary also looks at what life could be like if conditions were right on distant planets light years away. The film refers to what scientists call the “Goldilocks Zone” — a system not too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist.
It’s this educational component, together with great footage, which makes A Beautiful Planet perfect for all ages and interests.
A Beautiful Planet is currently playing at IMAX Melbourne. Check with the IMAX website for screening times.
*All pictures courtesy of NASA. © 2016 IMAX Corporation
Jenny Burns attended A Beautiful Planet as a guest of IMAX Melbourne.