Holiday Movie Guide

A Circus in Air

TFK chats with the director behind Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, in theaters December 21

December 10, 2012
© 2012 CIRQUE DU SOLEIL BURLESCO LLC

A high-flying scene from Paramount Picture's new 3-D film, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, in theaters December 21.

Cirque du Soleil goes from the big top to the big screen in Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Award on December 21. The 3-D film combines elements from seven live Cirque du Soleil shows based out of Las Vegas—including O and Viva ELVIS. The performances are woven into a new story about a young couple searching for each other through seven dreamlike worlds.  Director Andrew Adamson (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Shrek) followed the performers under water and up in the air with 3-D cameras to capture the breathtaking acrobatics. TFK spoke with Adamson about filming the movie.

Andrew Adamson is the writer, director and producer of Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away.

MARK FELLMAN/© 2012 CIRQUE DU SOLEIL BURLESCO LLC
Andrew Adamson is the writer, director and producer of Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away.

TFK:

You have directed live action and animated movies. What drew you to making a film based on live performances?

ADAMSON:

It was actually the performances themselves. I’ve been a huge Cirque fan since I first saw [the Cirque show] Saltimbanco in Santa Monica many years ago. I always loved the effect, that it sort of transported you into this dream-like reality, [with] music, imagery and performances that are otherworldly. So when there was an opportunity to figure out a way to capture that on film, I was very intrigued. It wasn’t so much because I wanted to make a live performance show, as I wanted to capture that experience and enhance it and get it to a wider audience.

TFK:

Did you have to make adjustments to the performances to best capture them on 3-D film?

ADAMSON:

We wanted to take [audiences] beyond the experience of sitting in the theater and actually take them into the stage and emotionally connect them. I created a story that took us through the different worlds of Cirque du Soleil and allowed the audience then to go into that story with the characters and physically be much closer to them—to the point where one of the performers actually kicked one of the cameras at one point. (Laughs) Neither camera or performer was hurt, luckily, but we do get that close. We go under the water with them and we go up in the air with them and you see things that you can’t see in a live performance.

TFK:

The movie combines performances from several existing Cirque shows. Were any parts of the acrobatic performances created specifically for film?

Director Andrew Adamson(left) watches Igor Zaripov("The Aerialist," center) and Erica Linz ("Mia," right) fly high on the set of Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

MARK FELLMAN/© 2012 CIRQUE DU SOLEIL BURLESCO LLC
Director Andrew Adamson(left) watches Igor Zaripov("The Aerialist," center) and Erica Linz ("Mia," right) fly high on the set of Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away.

ADAMSON:

Yes, we had to integrate two performers in, and [we also created] the end sequence. I would describe it as a love story in three acts and an aerial ballet. The first time we saw it performed, it was actually just a really emotional experience, rehearsing together and designing it. And then they just got up and did it, and it was really amazing.

TFK:

Cirque du Soleil shows are often known for their high-flying acrobatic performances. Is there a memorable performance in the film that, even after seeing in many times, still blows your mind?

ADAMSON:

There are so many. I think primarily the end scene blows my mind the most. Every time I watch this—and I’ve watched it a lot more than anyone probably ever will—I see something where I go, “Oh my goodness.” The thing that really [comes across] in the end is the [same thing] that makes the circus survive all these years and be so interesting to us. It’s the combination of danger and beauty. You’re watching a beautiful performance happening without safety 40 feet in the air and it gives you both awe and exhilaration at the same time.  

TFK:

What part of the performance is the hardest to capture on film?

ADAMSON:

Some of the aerial stuff is most difficult because the people are moving and swinging around so fast, and you are operating a 50-foot crane. That is hard to capture because technically it’s hard to even get to where they are.

TFK:

Why should kids go see this film this holiday season?

ADAMSON:

I think it’s captivating for audiences of all ages. I had some friends over who had a 10-year-old boy, and I wondered how he would react, so I [played] a number of sequences in 3-D. He was captivated by it. Afterwards, I said, “What did you particularly like about it?” He said, “When you watch a normal film, they do all the stunts but you know they are fake, but this feels much more thrilling because I know what they are doing is real.” I thought that was really interesting from a boy’s perspective to understand that danger and appreciate it, but at the same time be lulled by the music and the beauty of it. I think it’s entertaining, spectacular, beautiful and an easy thing for kids to enjoy.


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