Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greg MacGillivray is at it again..."Arabia"

Last Thursday we were invited to the friends and family screening of Laguna Beach IMAX mastermind Greg MacGillivray’s newest IMAX 3D film Arabia. Yep, we’re friends. Not “let’s go out and T.P. Billy’s house and then braid each other’s hair” friends. But friends nonetheless. We interviewed Greg a year or so ago, and since then we’ve been kept in the loop of his magnificent life in the IMAX film biz.

Arabia was a film that MacGillivray and his team made after being approached with the idea by a group of Arab businessmen who did extensive work in America. The businessmen realized that Americans had a very limited, if not slightly tainted, view of the Middle East and Saudi Arabia. They wanted to put together a film that delved into the culture, history, music, landscape, religion and life of Saudi Arabia - a.k.a. the parts of Saudi Arabia you’ll never hear about on Fox News.
[Still from the movie: the abandoned city of Madain Selah.]

The resulting package that MacGillivray Freeman Films put together was a lot more than just a movie, it was an all-inclusive educational package including a supporting book on Arabia, and a 29-page Educator’s Resource & Activity Guide to be used by teacher’s in conjunction with the film. MacGillivray and his posse are bent on shedding some light on “a land precious few outsiders will ever visit, a world cloaked in myth, mystery and misinformation,” as the film website states. “Frequently in the headlines yet rarely captured by cameras, it sparks endless curiosity... [Arabia is] the first major film production to be granted access to more than 20 locations across Saudi Arabia.” Plus, it’s in 3D.
[Still from the movie: Aerial coverage of the Grand Mosque in Makkah during the Hajj when around 3 million Mulsims gather for four days in peace and prayer. Those little dots are all people!]

The Middle East hasn’t gotten this good of PR since Disney’s Aladdin. And as much as Robin Williams’s lamp-locked humor and Alan Menken’s amazing soundtrack (who didn’t love “A Whole New World”?) did for the area, I’m going to have to say that this film is going to do a lot more. Especially in a time as this, when interest in the area is at an all time high, and understanding of the area at an all time low.
[Still from the movie: Coral Reefs in the Red Sea]

Speaking of the music, Steve Wood worked on Arabia’s soundtrack and the music is beautiful. Turns out the Arabic musical scales have triple the notes we do. Which means that all the singers sound like Eastern Mariah Careys – hitting notes and doing runs through more notes than there are on a piano.  You can hear a montage of the music here.

Check out Arabia’s website for more info. The closest theater showing Arabia is about 6+ hours away in San Jose at The Tech Museum of Innovation. But hey, make a day/weekend out of it. To check out more of the adventures and cinema magic of Lagun beach MacGillivray Freeman Films, visit their website here.

On My iPod: “The Outdoor Type” by The Lemonheads

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