Rocky Mountain Express

Filmed in 15/70 (IMAX)


Rocky Mountain Express propels audiences on a steam train journey through the breathtaking vistas of the Canadian Rockies and highlights the adventure of building a nearly impossible transcontinental railway. Recruited to realize this venture—one of the greatest engineering feats of all time—were engineers and laborers from around the world. The film weaves together spectacular IMAX aerial cinematography, archival photographs and maps, and the potent energy and rhythms of a live steam locomotive to immerse audiences in this remarkable story from the age of steam.


About the Film

  • Released: 2011
  • Produced and distributed by: The Stephen Low Company
  • Director: Stephen Low
  • Length: 45-min.
  • Formats: 15/70, Digital 2K/4K
  • Availability: 2D
  • Featuring: CPR 2816 “The Empress”

The Making of Rocky Mountain Express

See how the film was made: “The Road to Rocky Mountain Express” [Article].


  • Directed and Photographed by: Stephen Low
  • Produced by: Pietro L. Serapiglia, Alexander Low, Stephen Low
  • Editor: James Lahti
  • Exec in Charge of Production: Dougal Boone Caron
  • Aerial Photography: Ralph Mendoza
  • Helicopter Pilot: Steve Flynn
  • Director of Photography: Mark Poirier
  • Additional Photography by: William Reeve
  • Original Music by: Michel Cusson
  • Written by: Stephen Low
  • VFX Supervisor: Mario Rachiele
  • Associate Producer: James Lahti
  • Sound Design: Peter Thillaye
  • Narrated by: Michael Hanrahan
  • Production Manager: Michel Chauvin
  • Post Production Manager: Jill Kasian


  • Best FilmRocky Mountain Express; Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA), Sacramento California, 2012
  • Best CinematographyRocky Mountain Express; Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA), Sacramento California, 2012
  • Best Sound Editing, Special Venue—Rocky Mountain Express; MPSE Golden Reel Awards, 2012


“This is awesome! You’re going to want to take the whole family.”
—Dina Pugliese,
City TV, Breakfast Television, Toronto

IMAX film features spectacular scenery, thrilling sequences…
* * * 1/2 [Three-and a-half stars]
—Jay Stone,
The Ottawa Citizen / Postmedia News

“Rocky Mountain Express is not just a glorious, flag-waving account of how a young nation completed a sea-to-seaway rail line, driving the last spike at Craigellachie, B.C., in 1885. It’s also a story of mudslides and avalanches, balky steam engines that blew their boilers on steep grades, and miles of track that at one point advanced by just five feet per day, at a cost of six lives per mile.”
* * * [3-stars]
—Chris Knight, National Post

“…an amazing IMAX film…incredible story of how Canada’s first transcontinental railway was laid. Veteran director Stephen Low uses incredible IMAX aerial photography and breathtaking vistas to put the audience into the landscape. Through archival photos and beautifully animated 3D maps you get a sense of how difficult it was to lay each mile of track. If you enjoy landscape photography as I do then you will absolutely love this film. …The sound design in the film is also first rate. How can you go wrong with a steam locomotive on an IMAX screen? I often felt like I was sitting beside the tracks when the train whisked by onscreen.”

“With just the right blend of excitement, history and the beautifully filmed Canadian landscape, this film will appeal to both parents and children alike.”

“In a new IMAX film, viewers will feel like they are flying over, or riding on, a train that cuts through rugged, steep mountains in one of the planet’s most breathtaking spots…’It was breathtaking; it was awesome,’ says Beth O’Donnell, 59, of Ruff Creek, Greene County, who attended a preview of the movie with her husband, Mike. ‘You felt like you were right on (the train).’”
—Kellie B. Gormly, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

“A restored steam engine roars through cliffs and valleys in ‘Rocky Mountain Express…’ This is a film primarily about images and sounds, and the footage captured by Low—just the sheer theatricality of the train itself–is indeed stunning. An engine chugs alongside a river, a heavy plume of steam drifting back, and the picture is mirrored perfectly in the watery reflection just below. It’s a gorgeous, poetic tableaux. Later, the train pulls into a station, steam shooting from valves, huffing like a horse expelling air through it’s nostrils. Low also includes some terrific archival photos, including one of a steam engine caught in mounds of snow after an avalanche, which remains a problem for sections of the route.”
—Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune

“…the film does an amazing job of making you realize just how hard a task it must have been to construct a railway line through the Rockies. Is anyone from out west? If so, you know just how huge the mountains are, and seeing those mountains on an IMAX screen was jaw dropping.”
—Sarah Sorensen,

“Rocky Mountain Express is totally awesome. The film takes you on a magical journey with the Canadian Pacific Railway’s #2816 over the Canadian Rockies. Not only do you get great shots of 2816, but the scenery across Canada is breath taking. The route is Canada’s first transcontinental railways. This film is a must-see for all railroad enthusiasts and everyone who wants to experience the beauty and majesty of God’s creation.”
—Father Jay Finelli,