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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cinerama - South Seas Adventure [Blu-ray]

 

(Carl Dudley, Richard Goldstone, Francis D. Lyon, Walter Thompson, Basil Wrangell, 1958)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Cinerama Productions Corp.

Video: Flicker Alley

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:04:59.782

Disc Size: 40,428,447,429 bytes

Feature Size: 32,052,240,384 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 23

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: November 2nd, 2013

 

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 2013 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2013 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
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 with David Coles (Historian) and Ramine Seaman (Featured actress)

In the Wake of Captain Cook (23:04)

• Carol Dudley Katzka Interview (11:09 - excerpts of 1999 interview)

Saul Cooper Interview (29:36 - excerpts of 1999 interview)

• Restoration of South Seas Adventure (19:29)

• Slideshow - Behind the Scenes with South Sea Adventure (5:51)

• Trailer For South Seas Adventure (3:52)

• Cinerama's Renault Daphine short (6:15)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Unseen theatrically since the early 1970s and never before released on home video, CINERAMA SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE can now be viewed in a digitally remastered edition. The film was restored from its original camera negatives, emitting both a breathtakingly colorful panorama and a sparklingly clear, seven-channel sound track.

 

 

The Film:

All those eternally wishful travelers who haven't the money or the time to go to the fabled South Pacific and have a real first-hand look around should go to see "Cinerama—South Seas Adventure." It's the best thing presented to date to give you a fine scan of that region without taking you away from home base.

This fifth in the six-year-old series of king-size Cinerama films opened last night at the Warner, and it is, for this viewer's taste, a wholly absorbing travel picture and especially appropriate summer fare.

All in a matter of two hours, it takes you, on the giant color screen, across the Pacific to Hawaii, then down the long sweep of emerald seas to the islands of Tahiti and Tonga, to the Fijis and the New Hebrides, and eventually to New Zealand and Australia, before leaping back to Hawaii and the end.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Cinerama South Seas Adventure” proved to be the 5th and last of the original, 3-panel Cinerama travelogues. Released in 1958, and 4 months after the 3-panel competitor, “Windjammer: The Voyage of the Christian Radich”, it is at moments similar, although overall an entirely different tale than previously seen in the format. Five separate stories are dramatized, woven out of a series of theoretical, island-hopping voyages that start en route to Hawaii, and after traversing the South Seas as far as Australia, end up flying back home from Honolulu.

In between, through both an adventurous shipboard passenger, a returning American WWII veteran, and the enthused narration, we're taken island hopping to stops in places lush, tranquil, and inviting, like Tahiti, Tonga and Fiji, then to and the even more exotic, primitive Pentecost Island. Native dancing and song are celebrated alongside cultures and customs spanning thousands of years. Sailing onward to New Zealand, we're reminded it's also an island, in fact two, with an unexpected geography including volcanoes and snow-covered mountain ranges. From there we' travel on to Australia, where we follow the arrival of a new European immigrant man and his young daughter, as they get accustomed to native animals like koalas and kangaroos, and then settle in for a new life in the "outback". There, they become integral in stories illustrating life in such isolated areas, including both the "School of the Air", a classroom conducted over the radio and the Flying Doctor Service, similarly radio-dispatched.

Unseen theatrically since the early 1970’s, and never before issued on home video, CINERAMA SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE is the original road show version of the picture, complete with overture, intermission and exit music, now newly presented in the Smilebox® Curved Screen Simulation. Now digitally remastered from the original camera negatives, the picture shines bright emitting both a panorama that is at times breathtakingly colorful, and a sparklingly clear, seven-channel sound track, as well as a fascinating time capsule of 1950’s innocence and quaintness. With a partial narration by Orson Welles, the picture also, surprisingly may be the first to chronicle primitive bungee jumping.

Excerpt from Flicker Alley located HERE

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

First How the West Was Won, then This is Cinerama - now more SmileBox Blu-ray with Flicker Alley's new Cinerama South Seas Adventure! and simultaneously released Cinerama Holiday. It's hard not to be impressed - especially if you sit a bit closer during the presentation. The SmileBox effect can really encompass your vision and wrap you into the motion. This Blu-ray attempts to recreate the Roadshow version complete with Overture, Intermission and Exit music.  The two hour film is housed on a dual-layered disc with a high bitrate. The image looks great... really great at time. Colors are bright and truer with no embellishment. The cinematography is likewise impressive - frequently brilliant. Contrast exhibits healthy black levels - more a function of the restoration. I see no noise and this Blu-ray can take your breath away if viewed on a large enough system. The film seams vertical disconnect is are far less visible when the movie is in motion. This is filled with beautiful, rich visuals that lend themselves to the HD format.

 

NOTE: Although the 'Intermission' title card says 15-minutes - the actual time through the Blu-ray presentation is about 3-minutes.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2013 kbps and is advertised to represent the original seven-channel sound track. I don't know what it sounded like originally, but this surround has some appealing moments. It is exceptionally clear - we get some Orson Welles narration - and the rest exports some decent bass with a tight, unhindered lossless track. All good. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Flicker Alley offer many extras including a rewarding and educational audio commentary with David Coles (Historian) and Ramine Seaman - a featured actress in the South Sea Adventure who tells us her memories of the production. Also included is In the Wake of Captain Cook - 23-minutes with highlights of key moments in Captain Cook's original voyage. There are excerpts from some 1999 interviews - 11-minutes with Carol Dudley Katzka and a 1/2 hour with Saul Cooper where we learn further about the marketing and details behind the camera. There is an extensive 20-minute piece entitled the Restoration of South Seas Adventure highlighting its journey to 1080P. We get a 6-minute Slideshow of behind the scenes images of South Sea Adventure. There is a trailer and a kind of commercial for Renault cars in SmileBox - lasting some 6-minutes.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The nostalgia factor here is in the stratosphere but there is more. Visually this seems to advance upon the earlier This is Cinerama 1080P with crisper, sharper visuals. This is a lot of fun to watch and transport yourself right back into the 50's.  These Cinerama production have tremendous appeal and are a notable part of movie-going history. It is great to both learn and see the presentation similar to the way patrons did over 50-years ago. What a treat! The Flicker Alley Blu-ray is highly recommended! A real treasure trove of unique cinema quality, color and documented adventure. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 2nd, 2013

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 5000 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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