Amazing Caves (2-D Large Format)
Review by Ross Anthony

"Amazing Caves" is not an exciting enough title for a sometimes breathtaking, sometimes wondrous audiovisual experience.

The filmmakers take full advantage of this sensational medium to carry us with them to places God knows we'd never go ourselves: winding through the canyons in the Arizona desert, Amazing Cavessubmerged underground, underwater, or dropping through huge ice crevices - climbing, paddling and swimming into mysterious, elusive holes in the Earth.

Though the production pays due attention to education, the beauty and adventure of these journeys are gladly the main focus. Splendid visuals are backed up with warm fertile moody tunes from 60's rock band the Moody Blues. The band reworks (and improves) old favorites for the score, enjoying the grand performance of Large Format audio.

Like exploring a hole itself, the film takes an excursion from the familiar beaten path of documentary format in favor of finding something spiritual to bring home in the specimen jar. Sweetly done.

"The most dangerous part of caving ... is just getting to them."

Cavers take to kayaks and drop down a 12-foot waterfall - your heart and jaw will drop with them. A copter'd cam scraps the pastel canyon walls over a limestone turquoise blue river - gorgeous (no pun intended).

Later in an underwater cave, divers squirm through holes no larger than a pizza. The screen is huge, but a fantastic feeling of claustrophobia squeezes it to within an inch of a gasp. How did they get that huge camera through?

My only suggestions lie within the realm of education. I wouldn't change a single edit on the current production, but might have added graphic overlays to back up some of the narrative. Liam Neeson's tongue gives appropriate potency to the voice-over; but several times technical phrases could have been illustrated in one corner of that huge screen by a chart, diagram or animation, while the big adventure continued. Such overlays would serve to make the production so rich with information viewers will want to see it twice or three times.

Nine years in the making, "Amazing Caves" was well worth the effort. I'd have chosen a better title though ... perhaps: "Caving in", "Climbing into the Earth", "Climbing into Ice, Rock and Water", or my personal favorite: "Spelunk!"

  • Amazing Caves (2-D Large Format). Copyright © 2001.
  • Starring Cavers: Hazel Barton and Nancy Aulenbach.
  • Narrator: Liam Neeson.
  • Music: The Moody Blues
  • Directed by Stephen Judson.
  • Written by Jack Stephens.
  • Produced by Greg MacGillivray, Stephen Judson, Alec Lorimore.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:21:15 PDT