Format: 16mm/35mm Colour
Runtime: 45 min
National Film Board of Canada
This multi-chamber installation by the National Film Board was the undisputed hit of Expo ’67 in Montreal. Presented in a concrete fortress five storeys high, the film was conceived and designed by Roman Kroitor and Colin Low with the participation of many others, including the architectural firm Bland, Lemoyne, Edwards and Shine. A film symbolizing man’s journey through life, Labyrinth’s narrative echoed the Greek myth about Theseus’s descent into the labyrinth to kill the Minotaur: viewers were led through dim corridors into three different chambers of the labyrinth, each of which represented one stage of the journey.
The first chamber, which introduced viewers to the hero, "Man," had screens on the floor and on the walls. Here, the initial sections of man’s life cycle were shown: birth, childhood, confident youth, the struggle to succeed and conquer, the refusal to accept mortality, and the recognition that many battles will be lost.
The second chamber, a transitional stage, prepared viewers to find the personal "beast" living inside us all; people moved through an M-shaped passageway formed by semi-mirrored prisms reflecting hundreds of small blinking lights.
The third chamber, representing man’s triumphant return to the world, was a wide, shallow auditorium featuring five screens in a cruciform arrangement, on which the symbolic struggle was played out.
This installation was the last and most complete statement of the collective, humanist ethos of the NFB’s Unit B: that we are born alone, but cannot live in solitude. Labyrinth also served as a template in the development of the IMAX process, which was pioneered by Kroiter and his Multi-Screen Corporation co-founders, Graeme Ferguson and Robert Kerr. In 1972, a twenty-one-minute version of the film was transferred to the IMAX format and screened at Ontario Place as Labyrinth ’72. The original multi-screen presentation was later integrated into a single flat-screen film, trimmed to twenty-one minutes, and released in 1979 as In the Labyrinth.