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Rocky Mountain Express: A Breathtaking Journey into Railroading History

Rocky Mountain Express: A Breathtaking Journey into Railroading History

A giant screen experience that re-ignites the magic of Canada’s historic steam age, Rocky Mountain Express centers on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The film shot in IMAX highlights the nation’s emerging steam technology and the humanity of this enormous project.


To establish a true sense of realism, the documentary was filmed using a helicopter and gyro-stabilized camera. To give viewers a truly intimate experience of steam power, IMAX cameras were also mounted throughout the train. Employing these extraordinary efforts helped capture the journey of Empress (CPR 2816), a steam locomotive built in 1930 and recently restored by the Canadian Pacific Railway.


The film explores the heroic journey in mapping routes through impossibly difficult terrain, then goes on to document the construction of the railroad track. Viewers are treated to the stunning and diverse Canadian landscape via breathtaking views of mountains, valleys and hills, through 5-mile long tunnels and soaring bridges and trestles.


The film also explores the personal pain and struggles of railroad workers, their sacrifices and lost lives as they inched their way through mountains of rock and snow. Animated 3D maps and carefully restored archival images provide insights into the building of this massive 3,000-mile transcontinental railway through some of roughest terrain on Earth.


Filmed with full 15/70 negative, Rocky Mountain Express employs the world’s largest film format. Every bit of this technology is visible on the screen. Breathing life into the steam engines of yesteryear, the film’s sound has been faithfully captured and rendered in six-channel sound. The original musical score by celebrated composer Michel Cusson adds to the emotional ambiance of this era and to the film’s more poignant moments.


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