July 18, 2003

Ring of fire:

Omnimax re-released classic volcanic tale

By Mariana Martinez

The smoke starts up in a thin, harmless line and quickly turns into a nasty cloud of ashes that fills the sky with grey. Then, the flowing lava comes as a joyful fountain that sizzles down the edge of a mountain, killing all with its golden magma touch and moving towards the rims of the earth. It falls into the sea, evaporating the waves and creating a new land with a god-like splash: the youngest land of them all was build by fire.

Ring of fire was first shown in the Tijuana Omnimax, at the Cultural Center (Cecut) ten years ago, but because it is one of the most successful movies ever shown and it is still considered very impressive and up-to-date, they decided to revive it.

The spectacular movie features the great circle of volcanoes surrounding the Pacific Ocean and the tectonic processes that provokes this phenomenon, and the many cultures that coexist with them, as the main subject. Viewers witness the annual evacuation drill held on the Japanese volcanic island of Sakurajima where the residents have learned to live with an active volcano and periodical ash falls as part of their daily lives The film also includes spectacular volcanic eruptions including Mount St. Helens, Navidad in Chile and Mount Merapi in Indonesia.

The idea for Ring of Fire came in the late 1970’s during the filming of another movie, as the executive producer of both films Mike Day remembers “we where in Hawaii filming a spectacular nighttime eruption of Kilauea, in this eruption lay the genesis of the volcano film.” The film was then developed by the Science Museum of Minnesota, The Museum educational Productions (TX) the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater and Science Center (San Diego Calif.) and Graphic films Corporation in Hollywood.

With a team of geologist, anthropologists, computer animators and filmmakers, the crew worked for over seven years to explore the great boundary in the earth’s crust called The ring of fire, where more than three-fourth’s of the worlds active volcanoes are located. The movie was very hard to film “It was like combat filmmaking” said Mike Day “there was an extreme amount of risk, there where many times where I recited every prayer I could remember”. The crew remembers the story about the lava dome that collapsed shortly after the film crew left it, or the scuba diver who volunteered to shoot underwater footage of lava vented into the sea.

After ten years away from the crowds, Ring of fire is still a great educational tool that shows the fierce forces of nature up close and the many proud societies who co/exist with this violent neighbor.

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