The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained.
The Film: Chronos (1985)
The Plot: Filmed in 70mm IMAX, Chronos is a photographic travel to some of the most awe-inspiring locales, cultural monuments and natural formations found throughout planet Earth. Capturing some breathtaking visuals in crystal clear detail and editing the collection of long, uninterrupted stationary filming in time-lapse Director Ron Fricke takes the audience on an unforgettable exploration of some of our planet’s most intriguing sights.
The Review: Chronos, along with the other pictures by filmmaker Ron Fricke, are cinematic anomalies. The film description makes them sound like Travel Channel contributions for an art-house crowd (and that’s not really an inaccurate description), but they’re more like obscurely thematic photographic displays. They combine a lot of the elements that go into making a movie minus the performance aspects, but there’s no doubt that as you are watching there is a pulsating flow to the visuals – which is assisted greatly by the score – and that there is a theme or idea within the order of it all. There may not be one or an intention of one to exist, but it feels like there is one and that is really what’s important. It feels like there is a focus and a direction and the fact that you can be transfixed without caring whether there is an objective in the absence of a story for the pictures to service is literally quite calming.
To fully take-in the magnitude of the visuals this is one of those films that really demands the large scope screen. Watching the film in that manner offers an experience that’s rivaled only by actually taking an expensive trip around the world to see the sites first-hand; and do it all with a set of headphones on to block out the disturbances and just meditate on some of our cultural landmarks, habits, and the planet’s natural wonders.
This is a picture that represents the other side of the spectrum to that viewing approach to mindless films – the “turning your brain off” argument. Chronos isn’t a film that asks that you forget about thinking in order to enjoy it, it’s a film that makes you forget to think because you’re entranced by it. It’s as if the camera is as wide-eyed and doe-faced about what it’s seeing and looking through it makes you feel like you’ve never seen anything. It doesn’t need a story; just your attention.
But why spend 43 minutes watching this film when you only have 403,200 minutes left alive?
Because Chronos is a plane ticket around the world, or as close as you can get to one without getting one. It’s a way to see some of Earth’s natural beauty along with some of civilization’s greatest technical and architectural landmarks. It’s humbling and beautiful, and the perfect thing to envelop you and cherish before you see it all go away.