A Beautiful Planet
By Ann Coates
A Beautiful Planet is the next in the series of IMAX space-themed films from IMAX and Toni Myers dating back to the 1980s. The film perfectly evokes a wonder and awe only attainable through the medium of the Giant Screen. In this film, an exploration of Earth and our place in the galaxy provides captivating views from space. Like its predecessors (i.e. Blue Planet and Hubble), A Beautiful Planet continues the tradition of exploiting the best aspects of the Large Format medium — immersion and immensity.
Narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, the film is made in cooperation with NASA, and follows three astronauts as they arrive, live, and work at the International Space Station (ISS). As such, the astronauts filmed much of the footage of A Beautiful Planet giving us a unique and astounding perspective of Earth from space.
Pictures of Earth as a tiny blue orb surrounded by black space is a recognizable image from our decades of space travel. However, the film manages to sit in an in-between space — far enough from Earth to feel the immensity of space, yet close enough to recognize the Earth’s sprawling landscapes. Sitting in this middle realm feels both precarious yet comforting. A visual juxtaposition, the immensity of space magnifies the Earth’s and our complete insignificance. But by pointing the cameras directly on our planet, there is an undeniable specialness to our little rock — nowhere else (that we know of) in the rest of universe can be found the existence of life. It is quite an achievement to create this simultaneous distance and intimacy to our planet.
From this vantage point, the film offers rare images of Earth phenomena, particularly the climate of the planet. We experience a hurricane and thunderstorms distantly but no less dramatically. Most of all, we are given a glimpse of the ramifications of human civilization on Earth, and our (so far) careless behavior that has decimated much of the planet’s vibrant ecosystems. The uniqueness of perspective indeed provides a much-needed alternative view of Earth, and ultimately perhaps acts as an inspiration for change to keep our planet beautiful.