A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Living in the Age of Airplanes is an IMAX documentary about the way aviation and air travel have fundamentally transformed the way we think about the world. Narrated by Harrison Ford, the National Geographic film is an educational pick for older elementary schoolers and tweens who are interested in aviation, engineering, or international travel. There's nothing iffy in the content, but kids 4 to 7 may find some of the narration and information about transportation history a bit dense.
What's the story?
LIVING IN THE AGE OF AIRPLANES is a tribute to the history of aviation as a form of transportation. Narrated by actor and aviator Harrison Ford, the documentary doesn't dwell so much on the process of making airplanes as on the way airplanes have revolutionized the world by allowing people to be global citizens -- and nations to defend themselves on a grander scale. Divided into five parts, the documentary gives a broad history of the magic of airplanes, from life before flight to the early days of commercial airline travel to the way people can now span the globe without giving a second thought to the amazing way airplanes stay up.
Is it any good?
Sitting in a museum with an IMAX theater, this would be a wonderful add-on to admission -- especially for families with transportation or aviation aficionados. With its sweeping vistas of the skies and seas and the many amazing places in the world that airplanes travel, Living in the Age of Airplanes makes wonderful use of the IMAX format and deserves to be seen on the big screen. It's also educational, without being overly dense. Audiences will learn lots of trivia about transportation and aviation, as well as interesting statistics -- like the fact that, before the dawn of plane travel, most people didn't venture farther than 20 miles from home.
That said, the storytelling doesn't quite match the beauty of the cinematography. There's no mention of the Wright Brothers and other pioneers of aviation. This documentary is more about the importance of commercial air travel than the innovators who led to it. Ford's narration also accuses travelers of becoming jaded and frustrated without really delving into the reasons why modern globe trotters might feel that air travel isn't quite as spectacular as it once was. Still, children will love all those shots of planes in fascinating places -- like touching down on runways in far-flung places like the African savannas, the Pacific islands, or Patagonia.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how documentaries like Living in the Age of Airplanes are a different form of storytelling than narrative feature films. What are some other educational documentaries you enjoy watching?
Discuss what you learned about airplane travel. Why do you think aviation continues to fascinate people?
Some critics have said that Living in the Age of Airplanes ignores any downfalls or setbacks of the aviation industry. Did you notice that? Does it matter to you?
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