Poetry meets technology in the cycle of the seasons
Seasons is one of those classic edu-tainment films we've all seen at science museums and theme parks. Originally released in 1987, William Shatner (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) guides us on a journey through the history and mystery of the planet Earth and it's place in the universe. Part science lesson and part audio/visual feast. The film is a mix of time lapse, aerial, and hand-held photography, capturing the change of seasons in the great state of Minnesota, underscored by the orchestral emotion of Anton Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, as performed by Pinchus Zuckerman and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
While some of the imagery is dated (most notably the scenes featuring human interaction), the intimacy and impressiveness of nature continues to inspire. Framed by an interesting and often engaging storyline, the film provides a much-needed perspective on our significance and insignificance in the natural order of this amazing world we call home. Shatner's theatrical delivery gives energy to the story and punctuates its message. At its worst, Seasons is an outdated commercial for Minnesota Tourism. At its best, it's a 32 minute mesmerizing work of art.
Remastered from its original IMAX print, Seasons is presented in 1.33:1 full frame format. The transfer, while clean and clear, shows its age in an EPCOT World Showcase fashion—think Oh Canada!, Impressions des France—with an overall junior high science class film grain evident throughout. There are instances where the colors pop (as is the case with floral and wildlife close-ups) but for the most part they appear flat and muted. The most distracting visual element is the prominence of helicopter blades in many, if not all, of the aerial shots. From an audio perspective, we are blessed not only with Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in four different languages (English, French, Spanish, and Japanese) but also an English DTS track to boot. The music is lush and the rhythm of the environment engulfs you.
In terms of bonus features, Slingshot throws us a few bones in the form of "The End of the World in Four Seasons"—an existential Canadian animated short that will require several viewings to plumb the depth of its humor and meaning; "Falling Waters"—a beautifully filmed journey up, down, and around a mountain waterfall; "Seasons Trivia"—a cursor driven interactive game, testing how much information you absorbed from the feature; an original theatrical trailer; and a series of studio trailers showcase upcoming and currently available Slingshot titles including Tropical Rainforest, Genesis, Search for the Great Sharks, Great Barrier Reef, The Greatest Places, and Ring of Fire. Beautiful and intricately designed menus add surprising icing to the packaging presentation.
Seasons is an enticing title for the Discovery Channel crowd. Slingshot is commended for bringing these films out of the museums and making them available to the masses. Case dismissed!
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