It is impossible to do justice to Ron Fricke's CHRONOS if you haven't seen it in its original IMAX format. You might have the largest home cinema and audio system around, but it simply can not compete with the overwhelming power of the film in its original incarnation. A US movie mag review from 1985 (the year it was released) said it perfectly: "The high projection system allows Fricke to create an experience so real it seems more like some private interior vision."
Thematically and narratively, it does indeed fall short of the more thoughtful and interesting QATSI series and Fricke's later BARAKA. Given the huge advances in imaging technology that have occurred since his self-built 15 perf. 65mm camera began clicking away in 1984, it does look a little dated. And frankly the editing loses its focus after the first 25 minutes.
But to this day there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that is more jaw droppingly beautiful than the tilt-down shot inside the basilica of St. Peter's in Rome. Wham bang action flicks can try as hard as they like to accelerate the speed of editing and the intensity of explosions and still they will not even come close to the incredible, almost overwhelming tension and release of the 'Escalator' sequence. FX guys can shoot you into space as many times as you can stand it, but they will find it forever hard to match the truly ethereal final shots.
And powering it all is, with the exception of BLADE RUNNER, the finest electronic film score of all time, and one of the finest scores period. Michael Stearns soundtrack remains a classic. The purity and serenity of ESSENCE AND THE ANCIENTS is perfectly balanced against the fury of ESCALATOR; the moving and minimal PORTRAITS precedes the gigantic splendour of THE RIDE, to produce an overall experience that really was like sharing someone's interior vision. Not even a Blu-ray release could really showcase this film.