You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Across the Sea of Time

Though touted as the second fictional featurette made in Imax 3-D, "Across the Sea of Time" leans more heavily on the for-mat's documentary capabilities, for results that are spectacular and unique.

Tomas - Peter Reznik Freighter chief - John McDonough Seaman - Avi Hoffman Freighter pilot - Victor Steinbach Con Ed worker - Peter Boyden Hot dog vendor - Philip Levy Julia Minton - Abby Lewis Donald Trump - Donald Trump

Though touted as the second fictional featurette made in Imax 3-D, “Across the Sea of Time” leans more heavily on the for-mat’s documentary capabilities, for results that are spectacular and unique. Beyond serving as a valentine to the visual glories of present-day New York City, pic deftly incorporates dozens of old stereopticon images that show the city’s turn-of-the-century people and vistas in 3-D. Striking and surprisingly poignant, these vintage treasures are sure to help make the film a major crowd-pleaser at Imax theaters everywhere.

Though only the sheerest of pretexts, pic’s tale is far more fluidly mounted and agreeably contemporary than that of the first Imax 3-D drama, “Wings of Courage.”

Arriving on a rusty freighter, Tomas (Peter Reznik), an 11-year-old Russian boy, jumps ship and swims to the Statue of Lib-erty, bearing old letters and photos sent to his family many decades before by a relative who immigrated to New York and found work as a stereopticon photographer.

Searching for clues to his relative’s fate, Tomas ventures to Ellis Island, Coney Island, Wall Street, Chinatown, Little Italy and so on, up to Central Park, at every stop comparing the city’s present aspects with those recorded long ago in yesteryear’s static, monochrome version of 3-D.

Whether Tomas is whizzing along on a Coney Island roller coaster, rocketing through the subway’s dark caverns, sneaking into a Broadway show also attended by Donald Trump, or imagining Manhattan from a bird’s perspective, the film’s present-tense sections offer the ultimate visual paean to the Big Apple. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani couldn’t wish for a more dazzling come-on to tourists.

But the greatest wonders come in those old stereopticon views, which combine the fascinations of the Lumieres’ early docs with the attention to human detail in Ken Burns'”Civil War” series. Amazing in their number and variety, these images capture immigrants wending through the maze of Ellis Island, long-dead beachgoers splashing in the surf, the teaming streets of the Lower East Side, the Brooklyn Bridge awash with traffic, workers perched on the beams of the first skyscrapers, and much besides.

As engrossing as the expansive views of the bygone city are, it’s the faces that rivet. They’re a vivid melting-pot assortment, young and old, caught in expressions of apprehension, hope, distraction, idle amusement and earnest work. Each seems to sum-mon up not just the manners and fashions of a distant time but a microcosm of individual experience and emotion. At eight stories high and in 3-D, and with an astonishing visual clarity, these images possess a drama no historical re-creation could hope to match.

Director Stephen Low located glass-plate negatives of these antique “stereoviews” at the University of California’s Museum of Photography. Low’s father, Colin, who made the first Imax 3-D film in 1986, designed an animation rig used to transfer prints made from the dual images to Imax. The stunning success of their collaboration makes “Across the Sea of Time” a document certain to awe historians and delight filmgoers for years to come.

Pic’s other tech credits all are excellent, with John Barry’s gorgeous score an especially effective contribution.

Popular on Variety

Across the Sea of Time

Production: A Columbia Pictures and Sony New Technologies presentation. Produced by Stephen Low. Executive producer, Andrew Gellis. Directed by Stephen Low. Screenplay, Andrew Gellis.

Crew: Camera (Imax 3-D, color), Andrew Kitzanuk; editor, post-production supervisor, James Lahti; music, John Barry; production design, Charley Beal; costumes, Cynthia Flynt; sound, Peter Thillaye; camera operator, stereographer, Noel Archambault; associate producer, Carol Cuddy; casting, Avy Kaufman; Reviewed at the Sony Lincoln Plaza Imax 3-D Theater, Oct. 21, 1995. Running time: 51 MIN.

With: Tomas - Peter Reznik Freighter chief - John McDonough Seaman - Avi Hoffman Freighter pilot - Victor Steinbach Con Ed worker - Peter Boyden Hot dog vendor - Philip Levy Julia Minton - Abby Lewis Donald Trump - Donald Trump

More Film

  • Joe Anthony Russo

    Russo Brothers to Receive Publicists Motion Picture Showman Award

    Hollywood union publicists have selected the Russo Brothers to receive the Motion Picture Showman of the Year Award. Anthony and Joe Russo, who directed “Avengers: Endgame,” will receive the award at the 57th Annual Publicists Awards ceremony on Feb. 7 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The publicists are part of the Intl. Cinematographers Guild, IATSE [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone on Rambo's Return: A

    Sylvester Stallone on Rambo's Return: 'The Warrior Can Never Find Peace'

    Sylvester Stallone may be 73, but he’s not one to sit back in his twilight years. As his legendary body slows, his output certainly hasn’t. This Friday, “Rambo: Last Blood” hits theaters around the world – 37 years after the debut of “Rambo: First Blood.” Why bring the muscled Vietnam veteran back for a final, [...]


    Vincenzo Natali to Open Sitges Pitchbox (EXCLUSIVE)

    Like Ron Perlman in 2018 and Guillermo del Toro the year before, Canadian writer-director Vincenzo Natali, whose new Netflix film, an adaption of Steven King’s “In the Tall Grass” will innaugurate October’s Sitges Film Festival, is lined up to open this year’s Sitges Pitchbox, organized in by Barcelona-based platform Filmarket Hub. The Sitges Pitchbox take [...]

  • "Tezuka's Barbara" in competition at Tokyo

    ‘Tezuka’s Barbara’ and ‘A Beloved Wife’ Head for Tokyo Festival Competition

    Two Japanese films, “Tezuka’s Barbara” and “A Beloved Wife” have been selected for the main competition section of next month’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will reveal the remainder of the competition and the bulk of its other selections later this month. To date the Japanese festival has only revealed its opening film (“Tora-san, [...]

  • Garin Nugroho film "Memories of my

    Indonesia Selects Controversial 'Memories of My Body' as Oscar Contender

    “Memories of My Body,” directed by Garin Nugroho, has been selected to represent Indonesia at the Academy Awards in the international feature film category (previously best foreign-language film). The announcement was made Tuesday by actress Christine Hakim representing the Indonesian Film Selection Committee. The fact-based film depicts the story of a young man from a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content