Imagine being in a remote mountain forest surrounded by hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies. The blue sky is so filled with these beautiful orange creatures that you can hear the fluttering of their wings. That sensation is what audiences will experience when Flight of the Butterflies 3D comes to the giant screen at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater beginning Oct. 5. This new film tells the awe-inspiring story of how a child’s fascination with monarchs led to a scientific breakthrough that surprised the world.
“Where do they all go?”
Dr. Fred Urquhart began a lifelong pursuit as a boy while daydreaming about where butterflies went each winter. Over the course of 40 years, his passion grew while trying to unlock the mysteries surrounding the incredible journey of monarchs and their secret winter hideaway. Dr. Urquhart enlisted the help of legions of volunteers, so-called “citizen scientists,” to help with tagging and tracking the butterflies in a decades-long quest that yielded the ultimate discovery of the monarchs’ overwintering sites in the mountain sanctuaries of Mexico that lie above 10,000 feet in altitude. “I do not know of any species of insect that has aroused a greater interest among the populace in many parts of the world than the monarch butterfly,” said Dr. Urquhart in a 1987 interview.
“Truly marvels of nature.”
Weighing less than a penny, monarch butterflies make one of the longest migrations on Earth across a continent, with pinpoint navigational accuracy, to a secluded place they have never visited. While much has been learned, scientists are still unraveling the many interrelated aspects of this phenomenon of the natural world. As audiences will witness, it takes two to three generations of butterflies to migrate north from Mexico through the U.S. to Canada and one “super generation” to complete the migration back south to Mexico.
“Travel inside the chrysalis.”
Flight of the Butterflies 3D is a truly immersive giant screen experience. For the first time ever, moviegoers will see the evolution from egg to caterpillar to pupa to butterfly in extreme close-up thanks to MRI and micro CT scans. Audiences will be drawn inside the chrysalis, allowing them to view this transformation as never before.
While some of the scientific animations are created using state-of-the-art technology, the spectacular butterfly footage is real. The film team traveled high into the mountain ranges and up tree canopies into the monarch sanctuaries of Mexico to capture truly remarkable footage of millions of these vividly-colored creatures. Audiences that have seen special previews of this film have been amazed by the actual sounds of their wings flapping and the stunning use of 3D techniques to draw viewers into the experience.
“We must remain committed to the conservation of these fragile creatures and their threatened habitats.” – Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico
In 2008, UNESCO declared the monarch butterfly reserve in Mexico a World Heritage Site. Despite efforts by the Mexican government to protect the sanctuaries, enforcement is difficult in remote regions and several forces persist in threatening the survival of the monarch butterfly migration, including degradations of forest habitats, the side effects of industrial farming and climate change.
Significant portions of the film’s box office revenue will go towards monarch butterfly conservation through Mexico’s leading conservation organization, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza.
Flight of the Butterflies 3D is rated G and runs 44 minutes. For showtimes and to purchase tickets online go to: http://tnaqua.org/IMAX.aspx