Greece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the Past
Greece: Secrets of the PastAbout Ancient GreeceGreece: Secrets of the PastAbout The IMAX FilmGreece: Secrets of the PastRelated TopicsGreece: Secrets of the PastFor TeachersGreece: Secrets of the Past
Greece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the PastGreece: Secrets of the Past
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Film Synopsis
The Parthenon. Praised by Le Corbusier as “the most perfect building ever built.”
The Parthenon. Praised by Le Corbusier as “the most perfect building ever built.”
Courtesy MacGillivray Freeman Films

GREECE: Secrets of the Past is a MacGillivray Freeman Film presented by Alex G. Spanos in association with the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Museum Film Network with major funding provided by the National Science Foundation

The Canadian Museum of Civilization has been involved in large format film production for a number of years. The museum has worked in collaboration with a number of film producers including the National Film Board of Canada (The First Emperor of China, Mystery of the Maya), the Museum Film Network (To the Limit, Stormchasers), Destination Cinema (Yellowstone, Mysteries of Egypt), WGBH/NOVA (Special Effects), MacGillivray Freeman Films (GREECE: Secrets of the Past), etc. The museum has a special interest in films which deal with human history topics such as ancient civilizations. GREECE: Secrets of the Past is the latest product of this genre, developed under the leadership of Greg MacGillivray of MacGillivray Freeman Films.

Few familiar with the IMAX format will not recognize the MacGillivray name. Greg has been nominated twice for Academy Awards and both he and the company he heads have received numerous international film awards and industry accolades. They have produced many of the most successful large format films of all time including Everest (highest-grossing giant screen film ever), Living Sea and Dolphins (both Academy Award nominees in the Best Documentary category), To Fly (highest attendance of all time for any large format film, chosen by the U.S. Library of Congress for inclusion in the National Film Archives with such classics as Gone With the Wind and Citizen Kane), Coral Reef Adventure, Mystery of the Nile, and a host of others.

Many years ago an American astronaut watching an IMAX space film exclaimed “It's the next best thing to being there.” That observation has become a catch-phrase for the large format industry but perhaps it doesn't go far enough. In many ways, it is better than being there. Seated in comfort, insulated from environmental extremes, safe from fire, flood and various forms of pestilence, taking a vicarious journey to the far-flung reaches of the planet without the hazards, discomfort and considerable expense such may entail has a lot of appeal. GREECE: Secrets of the Past demonstrates that filmic expeditions need not be limited to the places and events of today, as it transports the audience some 25 centuries into the past to explore the vital legacies left to modern society by ancient Greek civilization.

Archaeological site at Knossos, Crete
Archaeological site at Knossos, Crete.
Copyright: Thomas Sakoulas, Ancient-Greece.org
Used by permission of Ancient-Greece.org © 2001-2006

It tells the stirring story of how a Greek archaeologist of the 21st century is uncovering the secret history of his ancient ancestors who forged a society that continues to astound the world today with its ideas, inventions and achievements. Set against the breathtaking, azure vistas of the Greek Isles, the film merges a contemporary archaeological “detective story” with some of the most advanced and painstaking digital re-creations ever undertaken for an IMAX theatre film, with scenes that restore such centuries-old spectacles as the Parthenon of the Classical era and the volcanic eruption that buried the Bronze Age city of Akrotiri in 1647 BC.

The signs of ancient Greece's immense and continuing influence on the lives we lead today are everywhere around us. The Greeks invented the concept of democracy, which transformed the world and fills today's headlines. They pioneered the theatrical dramas and comedies that kick-started our modern captivation with entertainment. They pondered the meaning of existence with the study of philosophy; and created the first system of sports competition with the Olympics. They simplified the alphabet, paving the way towards literacy for all; and scanned the night sky, naming the constellations. In art, they perfected the form of the human body. In math, they developed theorems still taught in school today. In literature, they left behind extraordinary myths and heroes who continue to inspire us– so much so that the first manned flights to the moon were named after the Greek God Apollo. Modern historians have often referred to the collective achievements of the Classical era as “the Greek miracle” and few would argue that it merits the designation “Golden Age”.

But the story of the Greeks and their impact on our lives isn't by any means over – it's still unfolding. As new artifacts and ruins are excavated with exciting modern archaeological techniques, the past is coming to life as it never has before. The secrets of how Greece rose from seafaring Minoan and Mycenaean times to the Golden Age are literally being unearthed from the ground beneath the feet of modern Greeks.

Horsemen in the Panatheniac procession, Parthenon frieze, Slab XIXX detail.
Olympieion temple, just below the Athenian Acropolis.
Copyright: Thomas Sakoulas, Ancient-Greece.org
Used by permission of Ancient-Greece.org © 2001-2006

It is this dynamic tale of science, archaeological adventure and discovery that unfolds in the film GREECE: Secrets of the Past, using the unique power of IMAX imagery to transport audiences deep into a world that no longer exists but that echoes throughout our own. Helping to bring a fun, contemporary edge to this tale of ancient civilization is the film's narrator, Nia Vardalos, the Canadian actress of Greek descent who rose to the fore writing and starring in the run-away cross-cultural romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding, garnering both an Academy Award® nomination for Best Screenplay and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.