IMAX 3-D Rockets to Space Frontiers

John Blanco-Losada (
Tue, 15 Oct 96 12:08:09 -0400

Copyright The Christian Science Monitor
NEW YORK -- Nobody knows for certain what life will be like when
humans make outer space an integral part of their natural habitat. But
informed speculation is a valuable tool as we move toward this
evolutionary step, and it's hard to imagine a more vivid forum for
such guesswork than IMAX 3-D, which fills a gigantic movie screen with
images 10 times larger than those on conventional film.
The latest movie using this process, ``L5: First City in Space,''

tells the story of Chieko, a likable youngster who has lived all of
her seven years in an outer-space community populated by her parents
and about 10,000 other adventurous people. Gravity comes from the
rotation of the huge, wheel-shaped structure. Power comes from solar
radiation and a fusion-based power plant. Hydroponic farming provides
food, and raw materials are mined from an asteroid the community
``captured'' for that purpose.
Focusing mainly on the quality of life in this well-designed
environment, ``L5'' doesn't have much of a story until Chieko's
grandfather - the city's senior scientist - realizes that crucial
life-support systems have been stretched as far as possible, and a
crisis will occur unless a new water supply is found.
His solution is to lasso a nearby comet, diverting its orbit so
that L5 can extract needed materials as it passes by. The plan is
almost ruined when a robotic probe misfires, but Chieko's father saves
the day by rocketing to the comet and setting things straight. Chieko
herself narrates the adventure, looking back on it from her adult
perspective as L5's mayor.
``L5'' is only 35 minutes long, about the maximum allowed by
current IMAX 3-D technology. Putting its emphasis on entertainment
value, it offers more spectacle than substance, blending NASA imagery
and computer-generated effects with studio scenes involving Chieko and
her family. In keeping with today's political atmosphere, its social
views are a mix of the conservative (individual gumption is all we
need to solve common problems) and the liberal (our shared humanity
should override national interests and racial divisions).
Supervised by Toni Myers with assistance from Allan Kroeker, who
directed the live-action material, ``L5'' is now opening in theaters
equipped for the Imax 3-D system. For sheer sensory impact, it's as
big and bold as anything on screen this season.

John Blanco-Losada "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - M. Gandhi

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