Cirque du Soleil on DVD
If you like Cirque du Soleil's combination of music, dance, and
acrobatics, a quintet of Columbia Tristar titles will keep you enthralled for a
Some are better than others, however, and one of them is really just a
documentary on the troupe from its beginnings in Canada to its assault on Las
Vegas - not that that's necessarily a bad thing if you're interested in seeing
how the Cirque got to where it is today.
A Baroque Odyssey is the documentary and it's pretty interesting,
though DVD fans will be disappointed to discover that the video quality is all
over the map. It's a ten year retrospective of Cirque du Soleil made in 1994,
using their move to Vegas as the hook for the look back . You get interesting
insights into how the founders conceived of the troupe and a lot of nifty
backstage info showing how they come up with their spectacular shows. Audio
quality is also spotty, and the film is presented in the original "full screen"
aspect ratio of the TV program from which it was transferred. 56 min.
Journey of Man was originally a 3D IMAX presentation that has
been "dumbed down" for television screens. You lose the 3D and the huge screen
grandeur (unless you watch on a big screen TV, of course), but you still get a
particularly arty look at the Cirque's view of human development from birth to
maturity. This feature doesn't have a lot of the Cirque's usual acts, just a
few very artistic gymnasts, but it's meant to be more of a celebration of music
and light than an actual circus presentation.
And the colors and sound are terrific, though the film is not in
And that's okay, though we preferred the other discs that were
recordings of actual circus performances. 39 min.
Which brings us to Nouvelle Experience, a recording of a Cirque
du Soleil show that toured during 1990-91. This is the Cirque we've grown to
know and love, and the acts here are wonderfully interesting.
Among the acts are a contortionist who seems to have no problem knowing
where to turn, a Korean Plank acrobat act, a breathtaking solo trapeze artist,
tightrope, aerial straps (see this!) as well as more conventional (though, by
the time Cirque is through they're unconventional) trapeze, juggling Russian
Bar, Trampoline and a fascinating act where a guy piles up ordinary wooden
chairs while balancing on them.
Picture quality here is good, though it is once again the full screen
aspect ratio. Audio quality is also very good, which really benefits the
Cirque's unique musical treatments. 85
This production, when it was a TV show, apparently won an Emmy award and
it isn't hard to see why. It's a record of the Cirque du Soleil's sold-out 1987
tour, and it includes some really remarkable acrobatic feats including
"handbalancing," tightrope, cycling, chair balancing, contortion, and aerial
acrobatics. With the odd clown bit thrown for good measure, of course.
The title is actually pretty appropriate, because Cirque du Soleil
really has reinvented the circus, taking the traditional one-or-three ring
extravaganza and transforming it into a multimedia sensory experience of sound,
light, music, and acrobatics. This disc is an excellent introduction to the
The video quality is good, though not great, but the sound is better.
The picture is full screen and the audio is 2 channel stereo. 56 min.
Saltimbanco, according to the liner blurb, is "a celebration of
life in which an international troupe of more than fifty performers ranging
from 8 to 45 years of age defy gravity and dazzle with their artistry."
Okay, well it's also another good introduction to the Cirque, featuring
top-notch acrobatic acts including hand-balancing, a double trapeze act and a
double tightrope act. There's also "Chinese poles," the Russian swing, bangees,
jugglers, and clowns. It's really quite amazing how the Cirque takes what in
other circuses would be dazzling acts of derring do and balance and blends them
with artistic lighting and music to create an all-new experience.
Created in 1994 the show is full of optimism and happiness. As usual,
the video is full screen, but the picture is very good, and the audio (which is
also very good) is 2 channel stereo. 78 minutes.
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