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Under the Big Top

When Adamson chose acts from the seven live Cirque shows to use in the film, he picked those that would lend themselves to the storyline of Mia searching for the Aerialist from tent to tent. Each time she peels back the curtain and steps inside, another Cirque du Soleil world opens to her. These worlds are:

  • O -- "Water represents both life and the unconscious, the dream state and illusion because of its reflection," says Pierre Parisien, Cirque du Soleil senior artistic director. "It's sort of the unseen realm of spirits, of ghosts, and the flying boat is like The Flying Dutchman. They are trying to lure Mia aboard but she won't go." It is the first tent Mia visits after she falls into an alternate desert wasteland populated by six big tops, "six kinds of limbos," says Linz.
  • KA -- To Adamson KA was about spectacle, with a stage a quarter of the size of a football field that lifts vertically, spins around and changes. "What I wanted to capture wasn't just the act and the performers but the ingenuity. Part of what Cirque does so well is combine art and technology and present you with this completely different imagery you've never seen before."
  • MYSTERE -- "MYSTERE is highly acrobatic, the most acrobatic show we have," says James Hadley, Cirque du Soleil's senior artistic director for resident shows in North America. It is also the longest running Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas. Hanging from a cube in mid-air, an aerialist performs a ballet with seemingly effortless maneuvers, foreshadowing what is to come for the star-crossed lovers.
  • VIVA ELVIS -- In the film, a mysterious self-propelled tricycle leads Mia to the VIVA ELVIS tent, where performers dressed as super heroes fly off trampolines to the music of Elvis.
  • CRISS ANGEL: BELIEVE -- Mia travels through six Cirque du Soleil tents that occupy a limbo state between life and death in search of love lost. The seventh element is not a tent but Cirque du Soleil's very own peculiar White Rabbit, a dancing disembodied bunny head from CRISS ANGEL: BELIEVE, who makes a timely appearance, beckoning her to follow.
  • ZUMANITY -- "The act that we're using from ZUMANITY is very small and contained, but it fits thematically well where we've placed it," says Adamson. What first appears to be water on the moon transforms into a water-filled glass container from which a seductive contortionist entices the Aerialist to join her.
  • THE BEATLES: LOVE -- The act built around the song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" is "a circus-based theme," says Adamson, "so it tied us back into the beginning of our opening circus." Hadley adds, "Actually 'Mr. Kite,' of all the acts that we filmed, probably has the biggest number of artists in one act."

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