IMAX film allows viewers to soar alongside birds

“Wings Over Water” showing at Denver Museum of Nature & Science through July 18


This IMAX film is for the birds. It’s also for the many people helping avians maintain their life-giving wetlands in Canada and the western United States.

“Since 1970, we have lost 3 billion birds, about one-third of our continental bird population,” said Chris Dorsey of Denver, one of two executive producers of the “Wings Over Water” project. “We wanted to brand the wetlands. We want the people of North America to see the prairie wetlands are every bit as important as the Amazon, the Everglades, the Serengeti. We’re trying to raise awareness of the importance of that ecosystem.”

“Wings Over Water” is showing until July 18 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The 3D, high-definition format allows viewers to feel as if they’re flying right alongside the birds as they travel through a 300,000-mile ecosystem that includes western Canada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and Iowa.

The film focuses on the lives and travails of bird families from three species: the sandhill crane, the yellow warbler and the mallard duck, all of which depend on the prairie wetlands for survival. It stresses their remarkable reserves of energy as they traverse mountains, deserts, cities and forests, as well as their mating habits, nest protection, food sources and more.

“There’s an extraordinary sequence with a great horned owl and a nesting mallard,” said Dorsey. “It’s an extraordinary scene, and a horned owl comes at you in 3D. But it also talks about how difficult it is for nesting birds to evade predators - owls, eagles, hawks and more. We tell that story in a powerful sequence.”

Helping Dorsey with the development of the film concept was Charlie Potter, president and CEO of the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation in Chicago.

Dorsey’s friend, actor Michael Keaton is an avid outdoorsman and not only narrated the film, but also wrote the foreword for the companion book, “Wings Over Water: The Vital Magic of North America’s Prairie Wetlands.”

Dorsey said the two go flyfishing together and added that Keaton contributed a lot of time to the project.

Singer Huey Lewis and famed broadcaster Tom Brokaw are also among Dorsey’s outdoorsy acquaintances. Lewis allowed the filmmakers to include “The Power of Love,” perhaps his biggest hit, in the film.

Coloradans also have a role. Ducks Unlimited, which has a large chapter in Denver, was involved in the project.

“Ducks Unlimited has about 700,000 members across the United States and Canada, and has worked on the prairie wetlands for about 85 years now,” Dorsey said. “There’s a lot of Denver connections to the film.”

Wings Over Water, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Chris Dorsey


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