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The images in this film have been captured by the world's most powerful telescopes including the Very Large Telescope (VLT), the ALMA and the Hubble Space Telescope. The cameras explore the earliest galaxies and travel the terrain of Mars; peer deep inside vivid clouds of nebula to see previously unseen forms such as pulsars and gas jet streams; glimpse new stars being born in the Carina Nebula; and witness high-definition images of distant celestial structures including striking new images of the sun.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The world's biggest screen (at IMAX, Sydney) is a great place to see deep into space, and some of the colourful images of the heavenly bodies of the universe are certainly stunning. The novelty of the experience comes from those images, accompanied by the music of Dale Cornelius. We could almost have dispensed with the narration, although Miranda Richardson voice is pleasant enough.

I would have enjoyed the film more as a wordless journey, possibly captioned here and there, especially as the images are so powerful.

There is a fair bit of padding in the film, footage of the Chilean desert installation of the VLT, for example, one of the scientists playing piano, the construction of the 6-pack of radiowave telescopes ... I want more space travel, please.

Hidden Universe is a December Cinema Productions film produced in association with Film Victoria, Swinburne University of Technology and the European Southern Observatory.

Review by Louise Keller:
The huge IMAX screen offers a sense of the scale of the universe with myriads of glittering stars that reach as far as the eye can see. Clouds and swirls of gas and dust in the midst of the galaxies appear as though a nonchalant artist has splashed some splotches of paint here and there. The imagery is extraordinary yet the impact of this Australian 3D documentary is not the powerful experience I expected. The juxtaposition of the moments of wonder observed through high-tech telescopes, footage of the Chilean desert and that of the telescopes from where the observations are made is far from seamless and the result is fractured.

Imagery aside, I was interested to learn that Chile's remote and extreme Atacama Desert is the ideal location for the VLT (Very Large Telescope) and ALMA telescopes. At 16,400 feet and a dry climate, there is little light pollution and the sky is always clear. It is in this location that we meet astronomer Dr Gregory Poole and astrophysicist Dr Jonathan Whitmore. The elements are fascinating and I was especially interested to learn that the revolutionary ALMA (taking 10 years to construct) was put into place piece by piece and transported to its high altitude by the biggest remote control trucks in the world.

Not surprisingly it is the images of infinite space and the edge of the visible universe as seen through the telescopes that magnify their target four billion times that provide the greatest sense of wonder. I wanted more. There is no doubting the passion of first time writer and director Russell Scott (formerly the lead animator at Swinburne 3D Productions), although the harmony of the universe is not reflected in the work. The decision to include several narrations (by Miranda Richardson as well as the astronomer and astrophysicist) is both confusing and irritating.

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(Aust, 2013)

CAST: Documentary

NARRATION: Miranda Richardson

PRODUCER: Stephen Amezdroz

DIRECTOR: Russell Scott

SCRIPT: Russell Scott, Anthony Watt


EDITOR: Wayne Hyett

MUSIC: Dale Cornelius

RUNNING TIME: 40 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: September 5; Melbourne: September 12, 2013

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