‘Flight Of The Butterflies’ Is A “Soaring” Success

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The butterfly is one of nature’s most incredible creatures.  From one species to the next there the butterfly inspires so much awe.  That is because of the process that it goes through to become the winged being that people of all ages love.  It is also because of the beautiful rainbow of colors displayed by each species post metamorphosis.  There is also the contrast of their fragility and endurance to consider among so many other topics in considering what makes them such wonderfully interesting creatures.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory and SK Films audiences are getting a very special look at what makes just one species of butterfly so incredible in the new IMAX presentation Flight of the Butterflies.  This roughly forty-five minute documentary follows what is perhaps the most well-known of the butterfly species in the form of the Monarch Butterfly.  It reveals in its re-enactment/documentary hybrid style presentation the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly including its epic (for lack of better wording) migratory pattern.  That story and presentation style makes up the central focus of the documentary’s presentation.  The program’s cinematography is just as important to note as the story and its format.  The bonus material included in the program’s home release rounds out its most important elements.  One can’t ignore the program’s audio here either.  That is especially when comparing it to the audio of the company’s previously released IMAX presentations.  It is just as important as the programs story, its cinematography, and bonus material.  All things considered, they make Flight of the Butterflies the best of Shout! Factory’s new IMAX presentations so far this year.

Flight of the Butterflies is Shout! Factory’s best new IMAX offering so far this year. That statement is supported through a number of elements that make up the program’s presentation beginning with its story.  This includes the format in which the story is presented, too.  Unlike its predecessors—Journey to Space and Rocky Mountain Express—this story turns the focus from technology to nature.  More specifically it focuses on the Monarch Butterfly, perhaps the most well-known and revered of the thousands of butterfly species.  The story takes audiences through the life cycle of the butterfly from a tiny egg all the way to its final stop in the mountains of Mexico and even back to Canada.  Along the way, the story notes subtly the impact that humans are having on the Monarch Butterfly population through urban sprawl, the elimination of resources such as milkweed, and other related actions.  That the filmmakers kept the program’s more preachy material to a minimum is deserving of its own applause.  It makes the overall story even more engaging for audiences of all ages.  The manner in which the story is presented plays its own important part in the program’s presentation, too.  It is presented more in the style of Hollywood’s major bio pics than the docs that have come before.  What is important to note here is that even being presented in such fashion, it doesn’t go full on in the way that those movies have and do go.  Rather it maintains a certain sense of simplicity and humility in that presentation style.  On the other side of that proverbial coin it doesn’t try to copy the re-enactment style presentations used by History Channel or PBS either.  What this means is that it presents the story in its own fashion even being a familiar style format.  It is just one way in which Fight of the Butterflies shows itself to be the best of Shout! Factory’s IMAX programs so far this year.  The cinematography that is used throughout the program is just as important to note as the story and its format in examining what makes it work.

The story at the center of Flight of the Butterflies and its format are both key pieces of the program’s presentation.  The story goes in a direction that is entirely opposite that of Journey to Space and Rocky Mountain Express. The format used to present the story stands out just as much as the story itself.  That is because neither of those programs used the format that is used here.  It even stands out from the format used in documentaries from PBS and History Channel.  This is even with the familiarity of the format.  Keeping all of this in mind, the program’s story and its format are just part of what makes the program stand out among its counterparts.  Its cinematography is just as important to note in its presentation as its story and format.  One of the most stunning pieces of footage presented in the program comes as the camera crew pans across an abandoned farm.  The farm, as the narrator notes, is shelter for the Monarch Butterflies.  It stands out both because of the shooting style and because of the contrast of colors in the footage.  The grass around the abandoned barn is a deep green.  The paint on the barn had obviously long ago worn away, leaving a bleak white/grey tint to its boards.  Meanwhile the sky off in the distance indicates trouble (I.E. a storm).  So much discussion can rise from this contrast.  That includes a statement about the safety and life offered by the barn even in its bleakness because of the deep green around the barn and.  The barn stands tall against the dark clouds in the distance, strengthening that statement about it serving as a safe haven for the butterflies.  The zoom effect used to show a butterfly’s path to a backyard haven, full of flowers, is another key example of what makes the program’s cinematography stand out.  It makes audiences feel as if they are the butterflies, making their way into the garden.  The way in which this shot was captured is explained in the program’s bonus material.  That will be discussed later.  Getting back on the subject at hand, the footage in this scene is stunning to say the very least.  One cannot ignore the absolutely incredible footage of the Monarch Butterflies in the mountains of Mexico, the final point of their migration.  There is something about the footage that is so beautiful.  This includes those moments in which the butterflies go about their lives alone an as they surround Doctor Urquhart and his wife.  It is just like something out of a major motion picture and must simply be seen to be fully appreciated.  It is just one more way in which the progam’s cinematography shines as part of the program’s overall presentation.  There is much more footage that could be cited here in explaining the importance of the program’s cinematography.  When audiences see it all for themselves they will agree that the program’s cinematography is indeed just as important to its presentation as its story. It still is not the last of the program’s most important elements.  The bonus material that is included in the doc’s home release is just as important to its presentation as its story and cinematography.

The story at the center of Flight of The Butterflies and the manner in which it is presented form a solid foundation for the program.  The cinematography that is used to help tell that story is just as important to the program’s presentation as its story.  They are not its only important elements, though.  The bonus material that is included in the documentary’s home release is just as important as its story and cinematography.  The most important of the included bonus material is its behind-the-scenes featurette.  More often than not the behind-the-scenes material included in most movies and documentaries amount to nothing and are typically useless to said presentations.  However in the case of this documentary it adds so much the program’s presentation.   Audiences will be surprised to learn in this feature that Gordon Pinsent (Babar and the Adventures of Badou, Babar, Away From Her) came into the role of Dr. Urquhart knowing little to nothing about Monarch butterflies or even lepidopterology (the study of butterflies).  He admits this himself. He also openly states how much his view on both changed as a result of his work on the documentary.  On another level audiences will be just as surprised to learn the lengths to which the filming crew went to capture the butterflies in their winter home.  What’s more the revelation that filming took an entire year is just as interesting to learn.   That is because it reveals the dedication on the part of the movie’s crew to fully capturing the life and migration of the butterflies.  On a related note, the respect that the crew showed the butterflies as it captured them on camera is just as enlightening and moving.   This is directly discussed and shown in this feature, too.  The discussion on the program’s cinematography is just as interesting as the feature’s other discussions.  One of the most interesting aspects of this discussion involves the butterflies’ discovery of a backyard haven that was developed specifically for butterflies.  Audiences learn that the crew used both a camera mounted on a helicopter and a boom arm camera to capture this moment, and that the two elements were melded together in order to present the sequence shown in the program.  The revelation about the regulations that led to this shooting style add even more interest to the discussion.  It would be understandable that the crew wouldn’t be able to get but so close to the residential sanctuary with a massive aircraft.  The combination of the chopper-mounted footage and the boom-mounted footage makes this sequence alone so memorable in its own right.  It is just one more way in which the bonus material shines in the documentary’s new home release.  There are plenty of other discussions that will interest viewers in the feature.  Altogether the discussions presented in the program’s behind-the-scenes footage make this bonus just as important to the documentary’s overall presentation as its story and its cinematography.  All things considered this latest IMAX entry from Shout! Factory proves to be the best of its IMAX offerings so far this year.

Flight of the Butterflies is the best of Shout! Factory’s current offerings in its new IMAX series.  That is due in large part to the story at the heart of its presentation.  The cinematography that is used to help tell the story stands out just as much in the program’s presentation.  The bonus behind-the-scenes featurette that is included in the program’s home release rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way.  Altogether they make Flight of the Butterflies the best of Shout! Factory’s IMAX offerings so far this year.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/documentary/flight-of-the-butterflies.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:




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