Urban Cinefile
"I never believed that life and farce are mutually exclusive - they're much the same in fact. "  -- P.J. Hogan, on his film Muriel's Wedding
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday, December 5, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

GREECE: SECRETS OF THE PAST

SYNOPSIS:
Narrated by Nia Vardalos, this documentary takes us through some of the triumphs of Greek art and architecture, from Bronze Age cities to the temples of the classical period. Through computer simulation, the filmmakers imagine what these monuments might have looked like at their peak. They recreate one of the largest volcanic explosions in history, on the island of Santorini - and explore its lasting effects. On the island is a sealed, miniature city, perfectly preserved beneath the volcanic ash.

Review by Lesley Chow:
Any documentary about wonders needs to let us feel properly intimidated by them; the problem with this movie is that it strives to make us comfortable from the start. It begins with a rather folksy narration: a welcome to "my country", followed by the revelation that "we are all sons and daughters of ancient Greece." The trouble with this approach is that it makes history far too relatable for us to have any serious curiosity about it. The restoration of Bronze Age artworks looks intriguing, until we hear that putting a painting together is like "getting to know someone," or that sculptures show us the "truth about how we move."

We never get to feel stunned by the monuments themselves: even the greatest temples are shot using time-lapse photography, with clouds and suns racing over them. If the filmmakers wanted real awe, they would have done better to keep the camera still, and let us soak in some of the atmosphere for ourselves. The film's best moments aren't over-hyped, either by the camera or the voiceover: the close-ups of hieroglyphs are genuinely fascinating.

By now, viewers should be familiar with the full barrage of IMAX effects: long sweeps over the ocean and narrow escapes with cliffs. Even the big showcase, the recreation of a volcano, is a little underwhelming: the shots of the earth being ripped up by clouds of black foam aren't much better than the average B-picture. The scene in which the Parthenon is restored using digital modelling should be enthralling: I was looking forward to seeing the white columns blazing at the top of the hill. Instead, we circle the statues reverently, as if they were exhibits at an institution. A touchscreen at a museum might be almost as involving.

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

GREECE: SECRETS OF THE PAST (G)
(US, 2006)

NARRATION: Nia Vardalos

PRODUCER: Greg MacGillivray, Alec Lorimore

DIRECTOR: Greg MacGillivray

SCRIPT: Stephen Judson, Jon Boorstin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brad Ohlund

EDITOR: Stephen Judson

MUSIC: Steve Wood

RUNNING TIME: 40 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: IMAX

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: June 8, 2006; Sydney: June 29, 2006







Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017