Column, Movie Diary

Bigger is better

By Dom Cioffi

I’ve seen some big things in my lifetime.

One of the first times I stood in awe of something immense was the day I entered the gates of Walt Disney World and first gazed upon Cinderella’s Castle.

The park had only been open for a few years when I traveled there as a young boy in the early ‘70s. I was understandably excited, but completely oblivious to what I was about to experience. The castle set the stage for the entire day and embedded in my young mind as the most incredible thing I had ever seen.

Anyone who’s been there can attest to the excitement of seeing the castle for the first time. It looks gigantic (which is partly due to an engineered optical illusion) and is glorious in its design and presentation. Walt Disney knew what he was doing when he made that castle the focal point of his park.

Another time I saw something big was when I was in college. I hopped in a car with my roommate and drove across the country to spend my summer break in California. Prior to that, the furthest I’d ever driven was an hour or two outside my hometown, but now I was traversing the entire country.

We drove the northern route to California in June and took the southern route home at the end of August. And while we were there, we made it a point to travel up and down the West Coast from San Diego to Napa.

The trip was everything I hoped for and gave me a wonderful sense of how diverse and beautiful our country is. And even though I had looked at maps of the United States countless times, I was wholly unprepared for the reality of how vast our borders stretched.

I also saw some big things on that trip.

One of our first stops was at Niagara Falls, and while I did think it was a bit of a tourist trap, the falls themselves were a wonder to behold. You just can’t imagine how much water is flowing over those cliffs until you stand in close proximity. The sound and visuals are overwhelming.

In July of that same summer away, I also went to the Laguna Seka Raceway in Monterey, California, and watched the Grateful Dead with 100,000 other concertgoers. It was (and still is) the largest concert I’ve ever attended. It was a three-day spectacle that left me exhausted and inspired.

I remember standing in a massive sea of humans who were all grooving to the same beat. I can honestly say that I happily lost myself in the music on that weekend, but by the time it was over, I was ready to get back to reality (and away from the stench of so many people sweating in the California sun).

Several years ago, on a trip to Yellowstone National Park, my wife and I took a balloon ride near the Grand Teton Range. While not the largest mountains in our country, they are spectacular to behold and majestic in both size and shape. We ate dinner at a restaurant that looked onto the range and couldn’t stop talking about how grandiose and beautiful those mountains were.

When I turned 40, I decided I better start ticking off some bucket list items. That’s when I booked a flight to Paris with the sole intention of going to the Louvre Museum.

The Louvre is the second largest museum on earth (the first being The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia), and contains some of the finest artifacts and artwork the world has ever known. I walked around that museum for two days and still didn’t see everything (that’s why I booked a return flight five years later).

I love museums of any size, but the volume of antiquities and sheer size of the footprint makes the Louvre one of the most awe-inspiring places on earth.

It’s always been said that the science-fiction novel “Dune” is unfilmable given how big its story and settings are. Past attempts failed miserably or never got out of the planning stages since the capabilities of the special effects were inferior.

But that has officially changed.

Last weekend, I watched the newest release of “Dune” on a massive IMAX screen. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew if director Denis Villeneuve pulled it off, I wanted to witness his creation on the biggest and most impressive screen I could find.

“Dune” is based on the classic science fiction novel by Frank Herbert and revolves around a young noble named Paul Atreides who finds himself thrust into a role that he never wanted, but always knew was coming.

This film was magnificent in its reach and a valiant adaptation of Herbert’s masterpiece. If you have any penchant for the sci-fi genre or have read “Dune” as a youngster, you need to see this film immediately.

A big “A-” for “Dune” (available at theaters everywhere or with an HBO Max subscription).

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]

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