Scenic splendor: The IMAX-sized Mystic India continues at Armory Square’s MOST.
Large-format outings sometimes resort to rigged coming-at-you visuals to pep up the proceedings, yet Mystic India director Keith Melton (Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man)
and veteran IMAX photographer Reed Smoot manage to logically
incorporate those gimmicks into Neelkanth’s life without coming across
as contrived. Thus, when Neelkanth leaves his village to begin his
trek, he hops into the Saryu river at full-flood stage in a bid to
cover his tracks—which also allows the IMAX cameras to dive in for some
first-person rapids-shooting. And the Himalayans offer Smoot the
opportunity to lens some vertiginous perspectives.
Perhaps most interesting is that the
really-big screen never really swallows Neelkanth’s search for
spiritual purity. Director Melton handles one emotional highpoint,
involving the young yogi and a lion that is terrorizing a village, with
a light touch of nuance that’s rare in an IMAX work. Yet Melton doesn’t
shy from the larger-than-life elements of the Neelkanth saga; one
nighttime image of the yogi snoozing with a snake recalls similar
flourishes in long-ago Sabu pictures shot on jungle back lots.
Screenwriter Mose Richards, another old hand with IMAX features such as Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure,
has a tougher nut to crack regarding the film’s few dialogue passages.
It’s difficult to translate 11-year-old Neelkanth’s world-weary wisdom
while not trying to sound like outtakes from Mike Myers’ The Love Guru;
at one point when concerned villagers question the boy stranger about
his whereabouts, he answers with serene optimism, “I am at home. It is
others who are lost.”
Thankfully, a host of eye-filling
tapestries flesh out the journey, from intricately detailed
carved-stone fortresses and palaces, to the yummy, sensual colors that
dominate spectacular Bollywood-ish festivals featuring literal casts of
thousands, to an amusing shot of yoga practitioners in pretzel-like
contortions as they get in touch with their inner ouch. And O’Toole
brings his customary dash to the narration, as his storytelling gifts
make the most of this lush, relaxing travelogue.
Mystic India is the current main
attraction at the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST), 500 S.
Franklin St. Show times are Wednesdays through Fridays, noon and 4
p.m.; Saturdays, noon, 2, 4 and 8 p.m.; and Sundays, noon, 2 and 4 p.m.
For information, call 425-9068.