To The Arctic 3D Opens at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater

Tue, 4/17/2012 - 5:29 AM

By Thom Benson

Chattanooga, TN – Our planet’s northernmost latitudes are colder than cold. Above the Arctic Circle lies an immense place of extreme conditions and pure, breathtaking vistas that few people will ever experience firsthand. But beginning April 20th, audiences at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater will have an opportunity to take a virtual trip to the top of the world when To The Arctic 3D opens on the giant screen. Within a land of snow and ice, a heart-warming tale of a mother’s love emerges.

Director Greg MacGillivray uses the high-impact of IMAX ®3D to place viewers on ice floes to get extraordinarily close to a mother polar bear and her two cubs. After nearly four years of filming on the ice and on the Arctic Ocean, the crew suddenly fell in love with the new stars of To The Arctic 3D. “We were extremely fortunate,” said MacGillivray. “Never before had filmmakers tracked a polar bear family at such close range, 24 hours a day, for nearly a week. We knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Unlike all other camera-shy polar bears, this family appeared comfortably indifferent to the IMAX crew. As a result, the team was able to document this mother’s life in a very intimate way. All of her maternal behaviors are shown in this film including nursing and nurturing her playful cubs. “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t fall in love with polar bears,” said MacGillivray. “As cubs they’re unbelievably cute and cuddly, and as adults they’re thinking animals. They are very clever in their approach to finding food and protecting themselves.”

From Norway to Canada and Alaska, the team captured a cornucopia of Arctic wildlife and pristine glacial landscapes. “The Arctic is home to caribou, seals, whales and walrus. It’s also the breeding ground for more than 30 species of seabirds, including the comical guillemot, better known as the penguin of the Arctic,” said producer Shaun MacGillivray.

Each spring, 400,000 to 500,000 caribou travel as far as 800 miles from their winter home in the western Arctic, Alaska and the Yukon, up to their summer range to give birth and feed on the nutritious new growth. It’s one of the largest land migrations of any animal. Because the area the caribou cover is so vast, it’s not easy to intercept the herd’s progress at any given point. But thanks to what the crew calls MacGilli-Luck, they were able to record some truly magical images. “We were in the field much longer for To The Arctic 3D than for any of our other films, including Everest,” said Greg MacGillivray. “One morning our crew awoke to a heard of caribou serenely sauntering past their tent flaps and, grabbing their cameras, shot some wonderful close-ups.”

Oscar® winner Meryl Streep narrates the film. She fell in love with story of the mother’s devotion to her cubs and the filmmaker’s artistry. “They capture these nearly impossible subjects and bring distant, often hostile environments to us in the most vivid ways and take us to places that we would never go,” said Streep. “The photography is amazing. It’s as if you can feel the ice.”

To The Arctic 3D has been rated G and has a run time of 40 minutes.

Go to: for showtimes or to purchase tickets online.

The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder, appreciation and protection of water and all life that it sustains. Admission is $24.95 per adult and $14.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $9.95 per adult and $8.50 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $30.95 for adults and $20.95 for children. Excursions aboard the new River Gorge Explorer depart daily into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” Cruise tickets are $29.00 per adult and $21.50 per child (3-12). Advance tickets may be purchased online at or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities.

To view Tennessee Aquarium's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to:

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