Speaking in pre-recorded black-and-white to the few dozen of us who'd gathered for the opening of Visitors last week in Montreal, director Godfrey Reggio began by asking everyone to leave their expectations at the door. How embarrassing. Besides my winter coat, all I had brought with me were expectations. And I hadn't noticed anywhere to check either on my way into the theatre.

Media not computed.

Somewhere along the way, I had read that Visitors was made of only 74 shots, in spectacular high-definition, spread over 87 minutes. I also knew the soundtrack was entirely orchestral, composed by Philip Glass, whose music I've appreciated since my Sesame Street-watching days. But worst of all in terms of maintaining neutrality, I had unintentionally smuggled in all my memories of the previous Reggio/Glass collaborations — especially Koyaanisqatsi, to which I turned countless times when my daughter was little, as a Baby Einstein alternative.

So, I was definitely expecting something. But what exactly? I really had no idea.

As I sat there in the theatre, worrying about my unauthorized anticipation, I suddenly found myself face to face with a gorilla. She stared at me for quite some time, through Glass's dark and richly coloured orchestral score (the sounds themselves lit from behind, by Mahler or maybe Wagner). And I began to drink my expectancy — and marvel.

If you're in one of the handful of cities listed below, you, too, can marvel at Visitors. Click "open gallery" above to explore the film further.

2014 Canadian screenings of Visitors

Jan. 31: Toronto (TIFF Bell Lightbox)
Jan. 31: Montreal (Ex Centris)
Jan. 31: Quebec City (Le Clap)
Jan. 31: Sherbrooke (Maison du cinéma)
Feb. 7: London (Hyland)
Feb. 7: Trois-Rivières (Tapis Rouge)
Feb. 14: Ottawa (ByTowne)
Feb. 17: Saskatoon (Broadway)
Feb. 28: Vancouver (VanCity)
Mar. 13: Winnipeg (Cinematheque)

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posted by Scott Tresham on Jan 30, 2014