Impressions de France

Impressions de France

Impressions de France is a travelogue film that transports you to the many majestic venues of France through sweeping cinematography and incredible music.  As the films title fades out and the clefts of Etretat in Normandy fade in, you are immediately immersed in the tranquility of this 200 degree film.  The theater consists of five screens each measuring 21 feet tall and over 27 feet wide.  I love this venue as it is wide enough to reach beyond your peripheral vision, but not 360 degrees requiring you to constantly spin around.  At one point, you are part of a wedding audience with the bride and groom in the distance ahead.  However, if you turn to your right you are meet with the larger than life view of another guest as if they are sitting next to you.  This forced perspective continues through the film and gives the environments tremendous depth.

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The film introduces you to many rich environments as the camera soars over majestic venues like the immaculate gardens surrounding the Chateau de Chenonceau.  A hunting party with the dogs can be seen moving across the screen.  It doesn’t take much time to feel transported to somewhere far far away.

Speaking of time, this 30 year old this film stands the test of time.  We are given snapshots of what everyday life might be like in the French countryside even today.  Floral carts pass down the 16th century streets of Riquewihr village.  Cyclists pass us by, hot air balloons take flight, and Bugatti race cars delight the crowds in Cannes.  These images are so effective at getting the imagination flowing you can almost smell the vineyards bringing the vibrant French countryside to life.

Now for one of the best attributes of this attraction.  Not only is it inside, but the theater is full of plush, comfortable seats!  By the time you get around to the France pavilion, you have probably walked over a mile during your day at EPCOT.  The full circle of the World Showcase by itself is over a mile long.  With France towards the back of the showcase, chances are you are a little tired.  This is your chance to rest, relax, and recover.  You can really take a load off here, unlike the standing only shows in both Canada and China.  Imagine how wonderful this break will as you take in the soothing sound of Debussey.

I have to admit that I usually find myself so relaxed during this show my eyes start to get a little heavy.  If you or anyone in your family is needing a nap this is a great spot!  Don’t misunderstand me though.  The film is not at all boring.  Quite the opposite.  I find it so effectively soothing at points that I am at the mercy of the music.

Of course, if you let your eyes grow too heavy, you will miss some majestic cinematography of the French Alps.  As a Lord of the Rings fan, I find the similarity between these mountainous shots and those in that film intriguing.  For my fellow Harry Potter fans, I even thought I spotted Hogwart’s at one point in the show.  Turns out to be Mont Saint Michel, which is evidently almost as famous.

What is France without some romance?  Don’t worry, Impressions de France has not left out one of the countries most famous attributes.  What would be more romantic than sailing along the cliffs at Cassis or a candlelight dinner for two overlooking the harbour?  The film shows what a romantic evening like this would be like should you ever be lucky enough to live it out in person.  Even if you can’t go to France right now, this is a great opportunity for mom and dad to embarrass the kids with a nice kiss during the film.   Can’t you just hear their grossed out moans?

“Ah, Paris the city of lovers is glowing this evening.  True, that’s because it’s on fire, but still there’s l’amour.”  One of my favorite lines from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, which would be a great movie to watch before leaving home.  It is a little darker than Frozen, but would be a great way to introduce the kids to the French architectural masterpiece which is featured in the film.  Also, a great tie in to the gargoyle found in the lobby of the theater.  This is a direct casting reproduction of the original Spitting Gargoyle which famously guards the Cathedral of Notre Dame.  Paris is pretty famous for one other architectural marvel which is also shown from several vantage points.  The Eiffel Tower dwarfs you the viewer as you see this mammoth monument from the ground up.

Before we pass under the Arch de Triumph and wrap up our imaginary journey there are a couple more interesting facts I want to share.  Originally the film included 140 locations, but only 46 survived the cutting room floor and made it onscreen.  If you would like to see the list of sites just visit Believe it or not, this film was the first of its kind to be completed with an entirely digital track.  The track has held up just as well as the timeless music and continues to provide audiences with a pleasant experience time and time again.

So, that is a little about Impressions de France.  Did you like it?  Hopefully this beautiful ride has put you in the mood for a delicate french pastry.  My goal today was to give you a feel for the journey on which this film takes you.   Whether you are visiting for the first time or have bypassed this show on your last few Disney vacations, be sure to check it out.  I have yet to talk to someone that has a negative word to say about Impressions de France.  The music, the cinematography, the air conditioning, and the comfy seats make this a ride worth taking!  Whether it be the film or the nap during the film, it is safe to say there is something for the whole family.

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