Rocky Mountain Express

Rocky Mountain Express

When was the last time you saw an amazing IMAX film with a Canadian theme? Rocky Mountain Express tells the incredible story of how Canada’s first transcontinental railway was laid. By retracing the original route aboard a restored steam engine, locomotive 2816 takes the audience back to 1885 when Canada was trying to build the longest railway in the world through the unmapped Rocky Mountains.

Creating a transportation route that joined the east to the west was critical in terms of nation building. There were concerns that competing American railroads would move north and claim the Canadian west. A Canadian route through the Rockies was considered impossible because of avalanches, deep canyons and treacherous mountain passes.

Veteran director Stephen Low uses incredible IMAX aerial photography and breathtaking vistas to put the audience into the landscape. Through archival photos and beautifully animated 3D maps you get a sense of how difficult it was to lay each mile of track. The film doesn’t shy away from the poor treatment of Chinese and Japanese Canadians that worked in under dangerous conditions in constructing the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).

Rocky Mountain Express

If you enjoy landscape photography as I do then you will absolutely love this film. In a Q&A with Stephen Low he revealed that the film was self-funded and took 5 years to make. At times he and his crew would wait weeks until the light was right for filming. Rocky Mountain Express is a labour of love and a pleasure to watch.

The sound design in the film is also first rate. How can you go wrong with a steam locomotive on an IMAX screen? I often felt like I was sitting beside the tracks when the train whisked by onscreen.

Train enthusiast will also love this film which goes into some detail about locomotive 2816 – CPR Empress. It’s one of only a few preserved CPR steam locomotives operating in North America today.

Rocky Mountain Express premieres at Shoppers Drug Mart OMNIMAX Theatre at the Ontario Science Centre on October 1, 2011.

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Posted in Movies at 4:19 PM