FILM: ‘Flight of the Butterflies’ Leaves You in a State of Awe


NOTE: Photos courtesy of SK Films. Flight of the Butterflies opens in New York at The American Museum of Natural History – LeFrak IMAX Theater in 2D on Jan. 5, 2013. It will play in more than 50 U.S. cities.

As the chill of winter takes hold across North America, hundreds of millions of Monarch butterflies travel thousands of miles each year after spending summer in Canada and making an arduous journey through the U.S. to return to their mountain sanctuaries in Mexico’s Michoacán state. It is among nature’s most incredible migration stories spanning several generations and inspiring Flight of the Butterflies, a beautifully poignant 3D movie for IMAX theaters by Toronto production company SK Films. Viewers embark on a fascinating adventure which begins with a boy in Canada daydreaming about where the butterflies went every winter. Dr. Fred Urquhart spent 40 years dedicated to unraveling this mystery with the help of his wife and volunteer “citizen scientists” who shared an interest and passion tracking one of the longest insect migrations on Earth.


Flight of the Butterflies crew filming in Mexico.

Flight of the Butterflies production crew on location in Mexico.

In 1975, efforts paid off with an amazing revelation in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico by married researchers Ken Brugger and Catalina Aguado. The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is now recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, with some areas open to the public. Aguado, a consultant on Flight of the Butterflies, is the only surviving member of Urquhart’s original discovery team. Among film highlights: sheer joy on the faces of actors portraying Brugger and Aguado as they witness a breathtaking canopy of fir trees blanketed with roosting Monarch butterflies.


Catalina Aguado on the cover of National Geographic, circa 1976



According to scientific findings, it takes two or three generations of butterflies to travel north from Mexico through the U.S. and Canada, and one “super generation” to complete the migration south to Mexico. Flight of the Butterflies also points to the delicate balance between ecosystems and humanity. “This project is a long-standing labor of love,” executive producer Jonathan Barker of SK Films said at an advance press screening in New York. Director Mike Slee and crew fully utilized 3D technology via MRI and micro CT scans to capture the insect’s remarkable life journey and its metamorphosis up close. More important, you have a unique opportunity to experience moments of awe as Urquhart fulfills his lifelong quest.

Closeup shot of the chrysalis

Closeup shot of the chrysalis




Flight of the Butterflies:

SK Films Inc.:

American Museum of Natural History Butterfly Conservatory:

Mexico Tourism:

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