Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic

Synopsis: An IMAX recount of the great history of Niagara Falls. Including the native legends, the historical importance, and the miracles of those who braved these mighty waters.
Director(s): Kieth Merrill
41 min

No one knows when man

first came to Niagara.

His beginnings are shrouded

in mystery and myth.

They worshipped

the Great One...

creator of all things

but their lives were directed

by the spirits of nature.

To the ancient people

of Niagara

the greatest of the spirits

were the Thunder Beings

who lived under

the Great Falls.

Their history

is lost in legend

their traditions

are but whispers

on the lips of the very old.

Lingering still

from the ancient times

is the story of Lelawala

the maiden of the mist.

Lelawala was a strange

and beautiful maiden

who lived in the land

of thundering water.

The Chief gave her as wife

to the oldest and wisest man

in the village.

It was a great honor

but Lelawala

could not love him.

He was disagreeable

and smelled much like a bear

in the springtime.

Lelawala did not wish

to bring shame to her family

and dishonor

to the wise, old elder.

The spirits spoke

to her heart.

She knew

she must leave the village.

She was driven by a force

she could not understand.

Some say

she was the chosen one.

The Thunder Beings

called out to her.

Her name was whispered

on the winds.

The legend says it was Hinum

greatest of all

the Thunder Beings

who called to Lelawala.

He caught her

in his mighty arms

and she became one

with the spirits.

Is it only legend?


but there are those who say

you can see her still

in the rainbow of the mist.

History beings

where legends die.

It was 2,000 years before

the white man came to Niagara

but he would come.

History remembers French

explorer Robert Cavelier

as La Salle.

He was searching

for passage to China

when he became snowbound

at the Great Lakes

in the winter of 1678.

Jesuit priest

Father Joseph Hennepin

recorded the extraordinary

events of the expedition.

The waters of the gorge are

too treacherous to navigate.

We have abandoned our ship.

We have entered

that portion of the river

Captain Caveller

supposes to be

the route

to his China passage.

By our calculation,

it connects two great lakes

but it is clear

God has deemed these passages

not to be gained with ease.

The Indians tell us

of another land route

to the lake above.

The trail traverses

a 300-foot escarpment

the natives call

"Crawl or No Fall."

Once on top, we will build

a new craft and go on.

For three days now

the wind has carried

a most frightful noise.

The Indians murmur

among themselves

"There are spirits

that inhabit this place."

The camp is beset with fear.

What Gad has willed for us

we know not

but we shall march forward,

sustained by our faith.

In all our journey

nothing I've seen or imagined

can be referenced

to compare

with the wonder of this place

the Indians call

"Thundering Water"-Niagara.

With the coming

of the Europeans

the white man learned what

the Indians had always known.

Water was the way West.

Whoever controlled Niagara

controlled the riches beyond.

What happened?

Terrible. It's terrible.

Two regiments backed up

by artillery.

How many

artillery pieces?

Field? Stationary?

They brought them

down from the falls.

I couldn't tell

you for certain.

We-we got a couple

of them, but...

just couldn't get...

Grab your muskets!

From light section!

Fire in two ranks!

Light infantry ready!

Fire at will!

Retreat! Retreat!

The struggle

to control Niagara

raged on a hundred years.

By 1850, it was over.

The frontier was gone.

Explorers, Indians

and the men at war

had pushed on

to the western wilderness.

Niagara became the mecca

for the ordinary folk

of a civilized America.

For a dime,

you could ride the steamboat

right under the falls

and see them as they were never

seen before.

How do you do?

Welcome to Niagara.

Your Highness.

Thank you.

Princes, presidents,

painters and poets-

they all came

to the mighty falls...

It's Blondin!

But so did

another kind of men-

men willing

to risk their lives

to prove

that they were greater

than the power of Niagara.

Let Blondin through.

Let him through.

Let Blondin through.

Excuse me.

Let Blondin step through.

Make way for...

Excuse me.

Excuse me, ladies.

Blondin, Blondin...

Blondin, the prince.

Good luck and

best wishes to you.

It's an honor.

Now, may I extend

an invitation?

You go on my back

and, uh, we work together?


I will work alone.

Let's go.

Ladies and gentlemen...

the Great Blondin of France

is about to perform

an act of true daring...

a feat never before attempted

by mortal man.

Your attention, please.

He is about to begin.

There he goes.

The steamship Lelawala

was only seven years old

when the Civil War broke out.

Tourism died

and the boat was sold.

Captain Joel Robinson faced

the most extraordinary challenge

of his life.

I bought her on condition

I get her downriver.

That means taking her

through whirlpool rapids.

They claim it's

the most dangerous stretch

of white water in the world.

It's never been done.

They say I shouldn't try,

but, hell, impossible is a word

that old steamboat and I

ain't never heard of.

Huh?! Ed! Ed!





They'll never believe it.

I've been telling

stories for so long

they're coming true.

No chance you got a bit

of baling wire, hey?

Where in larnation have

do you come from, boy?!

Upriver, Niagara Falls.

I think maybe the

spirits sent you.

Maybe they did, old timer,

maybe they did.

Annie Taylor was

a 63-year-old schoolteacher

when she thought

of a novel idea...

an idea that would become

synonymous with Niagara.

Now, Hector, you've looked

at every inch of that barrel.

Yes, ma'am.

It's just as strong

as we always said

it was going to be.

Does the lid fit


That's the most important thing.

How's that lid?

It's fine.

Well, let's see.

Yes, that looks pretty tight.

Well, put the mattress in.

Take the cat, Miller.

No, no, no!

I want that for my head.

Get the mattress in, though.

And I'll need

lots of stuffing

around my feet.

I'll need to

be braced there.


And make sure

it's all nice and flat.

Do you think that

it's all going to fit in there?


No, no, no!

I've got to

get in first.

I've got get in

before I get towed out

or I'll get my skirt all wet.

I want to look nice

for the photographer.

The photographer!

The photographer...

did you remember

to order the photographer,

for down below, I mean?

Yes, Annie...

And you be sure

he's to have no shots

until I've had time

to straighten my hair.

Oh, I'm not going

without Henry. Henry?!

Bring her the cat!

Henry?! Come on, darling.

OH, now, don't fuss.

The Indians used

to do this all the time

to show how brave they were.

And when we're finished

you're going to be

as famous as I am!

Put in that pillow.

And I tell you

it's going to be my good-bye

to Mr. Phipps and all those

misbehaving youngsters

at the East York school.

What will they think

of their Miss Taylor now, eh?

I'd like to see their faces.

Well, bon voyage,

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Ben Burtt

Benjamin "Ben" Burtt, Jr. (born July 12, 1948) is an American sound designer, film editor, director, screenwriter, and voice actor. He has worked as sound designer on various films, including the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), WALL-E (2008) and Star Trek (2009). He is most notable for popularizing the Wilhelm scream in-joke and creating many of the iconic sound effects heard in the Star Wars film franchise, including the "voice" of R2-D2, the lightsaber hum, the sound of the blaster guns, and the heavy-breathing sound of Darth Vader, made from himself breathing into a scuba regulator. Burtt is also known for "voicing" the title character, Wall-E, in the 2008 Pixar movie WALL-E. He also created the robotic sound of Wall-E's voice, along with all the other characters in WALL-E, and was the sound editor of the movie. The winner of four Academy Awards (two of which are Special Achievement Academy Awards), he is the director of various documentary films. He is also the editor of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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