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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

KILIMANJARO AT IMAX (article first published : 2002-09-12)

I was born and brought up in Kenya and had the most glorious childhood any youngster could image in a very beautiful country. Every year during the long school holidays, the family would trek down to Mombasa – plus dogs, budgerigars, miniature tortoises and whatever other livestock happened to be in the pet programme at the time.

The aim was to visit relations while giving my hard-working father a well-earned break and time to spend with his family on those magnificent beaches where we could swim in beautiful waters, explore fascinating coral reefs and eat seafood to our heart’s content.

On the way, we would stop off in the Tsavo Game Park overnight as the Mombasa road was fairly fraught with danger at night with animals such as rhinos tending to thunder onto the road out of the thickets. Having arrived at a game lodge in the dark we would awaken to the glorious sight of Kilimanjaro in the distance. Majestic with its distinctive snow-capped flat top, it towered over dusty plains, wild life and thorn trees – looking as if it ought to be somewhere more elegant ... somewhere Japanese perhaps, like Fujiyama.

Until the family moved to South Africa, this ritual continued for 18 odd years. It’s ironic that far away in Durban and more than several decades later, it’s taken me all this time to get to closer grips with this beautiful mountain. And to actually “climb” it! Albeit from the luxury of a well-upholstered cinema seat in a shopping complex in Umhlanga!

Thanks to David Breashears’ New IMAX Film Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa currently running at the IMAX theatre at Gateway, anyone can reach the summit of this great mountain.

The photography is simply sublime and the astounding and breathtaking IMAX format allows viewers to feel as if they were actually standing on top of the world. Or feel the touch of the glacial ice or shiver from the bite of the wind. Be amused at the invasion on the brown landscape of the brightly coloured tents of the climbing group, hear the gurgle of the mountain streams and marvel at the ice spears that poke up through the soil.

The film follows the progress of a group of people, from varied walks of life and ranging in age from 12 to 64 with differing degrees of climbing experience between them, as they head for the top of Kilimanjaro.

What drives the production are Alan Williams’ sweeping score and the comments of the five climbers and their Chagga guide. With sensitive direction, David Breashear, allows the audience an insight into their experiences as they deal with their own physical limitations and emotional response to the process of reaching the summit of one of the most beautiful mountains in the world.

Screenings at IMAX Gateway daily at 11h15, 15h00 and 20h00 with a late show on Fridays and Saturdays at 22h30. – Caroline Smart




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