By Sarah Van Harpen   Published Oct 05, 2002 at 5:29 AM

The film follows the Corp of Discovery -- a group of American and French-Canadian rivermen led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. In 1804, the group is commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to find a water route leading to the Pacific Ocean through the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. Along the way, Lewis doggedly catalogs to-the-minute detail every new animal and plant species he can find. And Clark scrupulously records one of the first maps made of the uncharted territory.

While the story line is important to the film, it really takes a backseat to the unbelievable landscape shot for the film. You'll hang perilously from a cliff, run from a growling grizzly bear and feel the rumble of thousands of bison. Sweeping over the calm, whispering, yellow prairie land of the Great Plains, trudging through the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains and paddling through the chilly Missouri River, the film is double-fold remarkable seen on the awesome IMAX screen.

"Lewis & Clark" also pays special attention and tribute to the people native to the land who helped along the way, nearly 50 Native American tribes, including the Mandan, Hidatsa and Nez Perce. Without their expertise and guidance the expedition would surely have failed.

Sacagawea (pronounced in the film sa-ga-ga-wea), a 16-year-old Shoshone Indian, pregnant and wife to fur trader Toussaint Charbonneau, was instrumental to the voyagers in her direction, interpretation with native tribes and education of the land and its resources. And while the exploration is one of triumph, there is also foreboding hindsight knowledge of the future for the people that called these lands home.

When leaving "Lewis & Clark" you will likely want to pile into your car with some of your closest buddies and take a road trip out west. For now though, the film serves as a close second to actually viewing the area in person. It also imparts an appreciation and hope that the beauty possessed by these awesome lands stay protected and preserved for at minimum another 200 years.


If you are one of the six people in the area who has not yet seen an IMAX movie, this is an experience not to be missed. A few tips for the IMAX first-times: All seats are good seats, but in the event that you arrive early, go to the top of the theater. This area fills up fast and you won't have to crane your neck up the way you might in the lower rows; the realistic effect of the screen can be a little daunting. If you feel dizzy, the IMAX people suggest closing your eyes for a few moments to let the moment pass. Eventually though your eyes will adjust and then hang on for a truly unique, realistic experience.

"Lewis & Clark" is produced by National Geographic and narrated by Jeff Bridges. Tickets are $6.75 for adults (ages 18-59), $5.75 for seniors (ages 60+) and $5.25 for children (ages 3-17). Children two and under seated on an adult's lap are free. Call (414) 319-4629 for show times and reservations. A $1.50 service fee is charged for advance registrations. The IMAX Theater is located at 800 W. Wells St.