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BMZ Review: Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets
By Ross Anthony


Deep Rock
Written by: Ross Anthony
Source: Ross Anthony's Hollywood Report Card
Date: May 9, 2005


Category: Reviews

Over twenty years after its release I screened this large format classic at Universal Studios. What a delight. Chockfull of classic IMAX moments: aerial shots from a craft zipping above the river surface, nestled in the canyon itself, hammock-rocking back and forth. Beautiful and breathtaking in motion. These soaring scenes are placed well among the static shots.

And instead of simple slow pans of magnificent canyon walls (which I expected), the film follows its human subjects as they interact with the environment. First the Anasazi Indians circa 650 AD (for those conservatives among you, these Indians aren't wearing much clothing). Then a recreation of the 1450 Coronado Expedition led by Conquistador DeCardena and lastly Powell's 1869 explorations.

In the past, I've seen LF films fail at integrating human subjects -- they just look so staged. But Grand Canyon does a fine job of making their actors real. They come alive in the Canyon, and help bring the Canyon alive at the same time. The Indians run barefoot along dangerous cliff rocks and the explorers navigate thrilling white water rapids. Actors or not, the people you see on screen are riding those rapids. It's quite fun.

Newer films enjoy a slightly higher quality to film color and grain, but this picture still has a great deal to offer. The weakest link is the sleepy narration. It's easy to simply not listen to it as the visuals are so, well, grand.

I used to live in Arizona and I have twice paid the canyon a visit. Most people who make the trek to the rim, don't usually venture down into the Canyon itself. I didn't. We used to joke that seeing the canyon for the first time will blow you out of the water with awe -- for all of five minutes, then you're done. (Unless you have the time, inclination, resources and health to descend into it.) For those who have never gone deeper than the rim, this film is an excellent complement.

(Btw, this release enjoyed some upgrades from the original including a digitally remastered soundtrack and the insertion of a short playful cougar-hunting scene.)

Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets (Large Format). Copyright © 1984.
Created by Keith Merill
Director of Photography, Reed Smoot.
Produced Produced by Keith Merill and O. Douglas Memmott at World Cinemax/Destination.

Grade..........................A- (3/4)

Copyright © 1998-2004. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: For Adult & Teen Novels written by Ross Anthony visit:

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