Soleil de Minuit – Redux

On September 30, 2004, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired a special encore presentation of Midnight Sun (Soleil de Minuit), the commemorative concert celebrating the joint anniversaries of Cirque du Soleil and the Festival Internationale de Jazz de Montréal that drew a record crowd of over 200,000 people to the streets of downtown Montreal in July of this year (for a full review of the concert see our July issue).

The event was originally broadcast live on CBC (actually time delayed by 20 minutes to allow for insertion of commercials), but being a live event made it difficult to film for broadcast. The first major problem with the original broadcast was that it went over the allotted 2-hour time slot. Much to the chagrin of those of us who set their VCRs, it meant that the beautiful finale featuring Francesca Gagnon singing “Alegría” got cut off. But aside from the overrun, the nature of live broadcast meant that the program was edited on the fly, which resulted in a less than optimal final product.

Luckily, Cirque du Soleil Images and l’Équipe Spectra (who produced the program), have taken the raw footage and re-edited the broadcast so that it is much more polished than the original live version.

To fit it into a 2-hour time slot some of the program has been trimmed. The opening speeches by Guy Laliberté and Alain Simard (Presidents of Cirque and the Jazz Festival respectively) are gone and many of the transitions between songs have been shortened. A clown act, and the song “Simcha” from “O” performed with a bagpipe brigade and accompanying an acrobatic act by the group Streb, have also been eliminated. In general, the cuts improve the overall flow and pacing of the show and keep it at a good energy level. The numbers that were cut were the weakest of the show and when watching the video of the original broadcast I found that I would fast forward through those parts anyway.

The editing itself is greatly improved, a wider variety of shots are incorporated into the program and the use of blending transitions is used to great effect. The soundtrack has also been re-mixed and is greatly improved over the original broadcast. The balance of the mix is much better in that individual instruments and vocals are mixed to the right levels, and sound elements such as the crowd’s rhythmic clapping during some numbers have been edited in for a more realistic sound environment.

Generally, the final product of the re-edited television special is much more polished and refined, and it will make a wonderful addition to Cirque du Soleil’s rapidly growing catalogue of television programs.

[By: Wayne Leung]