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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

This is Cinerama [Blu-ray]

 

(Merian C. Cooper, Gunther von Fritsch, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Michael Todd Jr., 1952)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Cinerama Productions Corp.

Video: Flicker Alley

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:03:32.404

Disc Size: 42,708,381,932 bytes

Feature Size: 31,598,653,440 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.98 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 24th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.00:1 matted for SmileBox

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1938 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1938 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit / DN -4dB)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

Audio commentary track: With John Sittig (Cinerama, Inc.), Dave Strohmaier (Cinerama Historian), Randy Gitsch (Locations background), and Jim Morrison (original crew member).
Remastering A Widescreen Classic: Before and after demonstrations on the film's remastering
(19:01)
The THIS IS CINERAMA "Breakdown Reel": Footage originally projected interstitially during the interruptions of any Cinerama performance - 5 min./B&W (4:52)
Alternate Act II European Opening: 2 min./Color (1:47)
Fred Waller Radio Interview: A slideshow featuring an original 1952 radio interview with Fred Waller on the eve of opening night - (15:30)
This Is Cinerama Trailer: A new recreation in HD of the film's trailer - (3:18)
TV Spots: THIS IS CINERAMA and 7 WONDERS OF THE WORLD - 1 min. each
Tribute to the New Neon Movies: A short film celebrating the Cinerama revival in Dayton, OH from 1996 to 1999, where a local projectionist set up Cinerama for special screenings to people from all over the country - (13:57)
Tribute to the New Cooper Theatre: Remembering the first Super Cinerama in Denver, CO - (2:58)
Promotion and Publicity Image Gallery

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: On the evening of September 30, 1952, the shape and sound of movies changed forever with the introduction of Cinerama. This unique widescreen process was launched when television was deemed as a major threat to US film exhibition. Fred Waller, Cinerama's creator, had indeed labored that long on his dream of a motion picture experience that would recreate the full range of human vision. It used three cameras and three projectors on a curved screen 146° deep. In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of its premiere, Flicker Alley is proud to present THIS IS CINERAMA, exactly as seen by over 20,000,000 viewers in its original roadshow version. You will travel around the world with Cinerama, from Venice to Madrid, from Edinburgh Castle to the La Scala opera house in Milan, and concluding with a flight across America in the nose of a B-25 bomber.

***

In celebration of the 60th Anniversary of its premiere, Flicker Alley is proud to present THIS IS CINERAMA (Academy Award Winner*), exactly as seen by over 20,000,000 viewers in its original roadshow version. Travel around the world with Cinerama, from Venice to Madrid, from Edinburgh Castle to the La Scala opera house in Milan, and concluding with a flight across America in the nose of a B-25 bomber. Experience this cinema classic once again in this unique "Smilebox" curved screen simulation! 

 

The Film:

The name is, of course, a combination of the words "cinema" and "panorama"—and that conveys most clearly the nature of the motion picture that was placed upon the screen. For Cinerama is a utilization of a giant wide-angle screen that sweeps in an arc of 146 degrees across the front of the theatre auditorium and is taller than the ordinary screen, and upon which is thrown from three projectors a tri-panel picture in color that actually has the appearance of one single panoramic display.

This huge semicircular picture screen is supplemented by a sound-projection system known as "stereophonic sound," which is arranged to throw the synchronized sounds of the picture to the audience from outlets around the theatre in such a way that the illusion of sound originating in sections of the screen—or from the sides or behind the audience—is achieved.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Isn't this cool. Blu-ray advocates first acquired the Cinerama look with How the West Was Won released in 1080P on September 9th of 2008. So it's been a while. Flicker Alley's Blu-ray - of the 1952 This is Cinerama documentary looks at the initial exposure of the process with plenty of impressive examples. This is the 'Roadshow' version of the film complete with the Lowell Thomas prologue (in black and white), plus the overture etc. The image is imperfect with varying degrees of clarity of the 'join' between the three projections (NOTE: MW says it actually looks better than in the first run!). The 1080P has done an admirable job of recreating the SimileBox visuals. Some samples are more impressive than others. I'd guess that this is as good a representation as could be achieved in the new format. Colors are bright and there is no noise. I was particularity impressed with the sequences shot from airplanes reminding me of some of the Cineplex-created films I've seen. It's highly interesting even without knowing the fascinating details of production. I showed my two young boys and they were mesmerized.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1938 kbps is a winner. There are some amazing sequences where the surround gets full benefit. The Cinerama process utilized seven discrete channels - way ahead of its time. This sounds very crisp with unusually buoyant separations and notable depth. Wow - fabulous audio. There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Extras :

Flicker Alley are always great with the supplements - comparable to Criterion. Their This is Cinema package is rife with vintage and newer pieces including a formidable audio commentary track with John Sittig (Cinerama, Inc.), Dave Strohmaier (Cinerama Historian), Randy Gitsch (Locations background), and Jim Morrison (original crew member) who cover such a vast range of topics with in-depth history and knowledge. We also get Remastering A Widescreen Classic which is 20-minutes of before and after demonstrations on the film's remastering. There is also the THIS IS CINERAMA "Breakdown Reel" which is the footage originally projected interstitially during the interruptions of any Cinerama performance. It runs less than 5-minutes. There is the Alternate Act II - 2-minutes of the European Opening and a 15-minute Fred Waller Radio interview included with a slideshow featuring a this original 1952 broadcast on the eve of opening night. The This Is Cinerama Trailer is a new 3-minute recreation in HD of the film's trailer. There are two 1-minute TV Spots: THIS IS CINERAMA and 7 WONDERS OF THE WORLD as well as a Tribute to the New Neon Movies: A short film celebrating the Cinerama revival in Dayton, Ohio from 1996 to 1999, where a local projectionist set up Cinerama for special screenings to people from all over the country . Quite interesting at 15-minuites, There is a short Tribute to the New Cooper Theatre remembering the first Super Cinerama in Denver, CO and lastly a promotion and publicity image gallery.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Cinema fans and historians will enjoy This is Cinerama. It is not so much impressive in the visual sense but from the historical standpoint that the extras supply so much educational detail. This has a gimicky edge but is also fascinating. The commentary will be greatly appreciated. The Flicker Alley Blu-ray is filled with value. Get the Home Theater pitch black and sit a little closer while sinking back to the early 50's and enjoying This is Cinerama. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

September 20th, 2011


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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