Antarctic 4-D exposure
Eerie realism grips KIM TRIEGAARDT while viewing a breathtaking performance.
The lights dim and we settle into our seats. The 3-D glasses take a bit of jiggling to fit, but soon it feels like a night at the movies. Only, instead of soft plush seats we are sitting on squishy plastic. That probably should have served as a warning but we are too busy getting comfy and bemoaning the lack of popcorn to anticipate what is coming next.
As darkness settles over the auditorium at the Antarctic Centre, Christchurch, a crescendo of music sweeps us on to the bridge of the Spirit of Enderby, an expedition ship heavy with passengers headed to see the Ice. The Southern Ocean is grey with raging waves, and in 3-D the experience is eerily real; I find myself holding my breath as the boat crests a wave and launches into space.
It’s what happens next that will make movies a bit of a yawn from now on. As we watch the boat crash into the sea, my seat jolts and water sprays across my face. There are a few shrieks from the audience. Nobody had been expecting that.
Our chairs continue to shudder as we crash through waves. Sprays of fine mist accompany each stomach-churning lurch, and the fresh salty smell of the sea soaks the air around us. I find myself gripping the armrests and bracing for the next jolt. This is the movies in 4-D, an all-round total sensory experience.
Safely moored, the tourists in the movie head to a penguin colony. One fluffy brown king penguin chick detaches itself from the group and waddles over to the camera and stares right down the barrel – all very cute until it sneezes. Penguin snot shoots right out the screen and on to my face – well, that’s what it seems liked. It’s in fact just a squirt of water from the chair in front of me.
As the sky darkens over Antarctica, snow begins to fall. First, it comes as streams of bubbles, and then, as the skies darken in the movie, little flakes of ice start to blow across us. They land on me and disappear in an instant. I stick out my tongue hoping to catch a snowflake. No luck.
Soon the penguins start huddling together as the wind picks up even more and the full force of an Antarctic storm hits them. We get a slightly moderate gale thanks to a wind machine at the front of the theatre.
The Antarctic Centre’s new 4-D experience was filmed by Kiwi Emmy award-winning cinematographer Mike Single who captured the footage in the face of 62 degrees below zero temperatures, once the wind chill was factored in. Thankfully, it’s not nearly as cold as that in the theatre, but the icy blast that brushes our ankles, and the thick fog that floats up from the dry-ice machines give a hint at extreme Antarctic conditions.
The only downside for Christchurch residents is that you can’t just go and see the Ice Voyage movie; you have to do the whole Antarctic Centre experience (which is worth it anyway if you haven’t been before).
But on the upside, you can adopt a tourist for the day and you’ll get in free with a paying guest – or take advantage of the special $25 ticket for locals (don’t forget to take something with your name and address on it). You’ll leave smiling but windblown and damp, and thankful you didn’t get popcorn.
King penguin chick: Hemay look cute and fluffy, but just wait until he sneezes on you.
Icy elements: Mist, snow, wind and
spray are experienced by the
audience at the Antarctic Centre’s 4-D movie,
See christchurchnz.com or iceberg.co.nz for more information on the Antarctic Centre tours.