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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cinerama - Seven Wonders of the World [Blu-ray]

 

(Tay Garnett, Paul Mantz, Andrew Marton, Ted Tetzlaff and Walter Thompson, 1956)

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Cinerama Productions Corp.

Video: Flicker Alley

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:01:46.090

Disc Size: 43,957,520,549 bytes

Feature Size: 26,539,579,392 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.09 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: November 18th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.00:1 matted for SmileBox

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Trailer (5:54)
• TV Trailer in black and white (0:53)
• Abandoned Trailer(3:52)
• Seven Wonders Breakdown reel (11:24)
• Newsreel Opening Night in New York (2:58)
• Restoration Demonstration of Seven Wonders (15:07)
• "Best in the Biz" Cinerama Composers Documentary (57:47)
• "Cinerama Everywhere" (8:23 - French with English subs)
• Behind the Scenes Slideshow (4:36)

28-page liner notes booklet (Essay by Lowell Thomas, program, rare photos etc.)

2 DVDs

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Of the seven sites the ancient Greeks named the "wonders of the world," only one remains. Seven Wonders of the World is a round-the-world adventure that picks up where the Greeks of antiquity left off. Released in 1956, this Cinerama spectacle follows 20th century adventurer Lowell Thomas as he seeks out the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Join him as he flies across the globe in the "Smasher," a converted B-25, capturing some of the most breathtaking photography ever shot.

The quest opens at the great pyramids, the last of the original Seven Wonders to still exist. From there, the "Smasher" circles the globe with Cinerama photographing a live East Africa volcano, under the bridges in New York, over and around Rio de Janeiro, the Parthenon in Athens, Angel Falls in South America, and many stops along the way to experience the beautiful culture of diverse locales. The film encourages the audience to choose from the dozens of sites explored. "What are your seven wonders?"

Flicker Alley and Cinerama, Inc. are proud to present Seven Wonders of the World in the Smilebox® Curved Screen Simulation. Unseen theatrically since the early 1970s and never before broadcast or issued on home video, Seven Wonders of the World has been digitally remastered from its original camera negatives. The global adventure captures the beauty and culture of these extraordinary places in a Cinerama time capsule.

 

 

The Film:

Even taking into account the fact that I was a kid when I saw this Cinerama spectacular, there's no doubt in my mind that it would wow me (and many others) all over again if presented in its original aspect ratio and multi-channel sound format. The astounding aerial photography of the Iguassu Falls of Brazil and Argentina (among many outstanding locations) and the musical scoring by film greats Emil Newman, Jerome Morros, David Raksin, and Sol Caplan make it a cinematic tour well worth the time, allowing the audience to experience sights and sounds they might not get to visit otherwise. Ten years ago Variety reported that this film was generally regarded as the best of the Cinerama features and that a group of enthusiasts were attempting to restore it to its original glory. If the project has stalled in the intervening time, maybe Turner could help bring it back - to commercial and/or home theater screens.

Excerpt from the Scott Gordon  at TCM located HERE

A December 24, 1954 Daily Variety article and April 11, 1956 Variety review of the film list the shooting locations for the directors on the film: Andrew Marton directed in Africa and New Delhi, India; Paul Mantz directed in Africa and Israel; Ted Tetzlaff directed in the United States and Italy; Tay Garnett directed in India; and Walter Thompson directed in Japan. The Daily Variety article added that John Farrow was named as personal consultant to Cooper. Pressbook material added that "advance arrangements" were made by Lowell Thomas, Maynard M. Miller, Robert W. Heussler and Eileen Salama.

According to an August 18, 1953 Daily Variety article, production setbacks occurred in Nairobi because of the Mau Mau uprising and also in Egypt where tensions between British and Egyptians were building over the Suez Canal. An April 1958 Films and Filming article criticized the film for staging traditional ceremonies.

Excerpt from FTCM located HERE

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

After How the West Was Won, then This is Cinerama and The South Seas Adventure , Cinerama Holiday -  plenty more keep coming! - I LOVE more SmileBox Blu-ray with Flicker Alley's new Cinerama Seven Wonders of the World and simultaneously released Cinerama Search For Paradise. It's hard not to be impressed - especially if you sit a shade closer during the presentation. The SmileBox effect can really encompass your vision and wrap you into the motion. This Blu-ray is the Roadshow version complete with Overture, Intermission and Exit music.  The two hour film is housed on a dual-layered disc with a supportive bitrate. The image looks wonderful. The scope effect and cinematography are hypnotic. I love putting this on when friends are over - silence ensues and they can't take their eyes off the screen. I see no noise and this Blu-ray will take your breath away if viewed on a large enough system. As we have stated before, the film seams vertical disconnects is are far less visible when the movie is in motion. This is filled with educational and exotic 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 Dolby Digital 5.1 and the option of 2.0 channel stereo. If I understand correctly, the 5.1 was created from the original seven channel mix. In Seven Wonders - it is almost exclusively narration with minimal effects. It sounded fine to my ears although I don't know the reasoning for not going lossless which may have added some impact. 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. From their site described as "This deluxe Blu-ray/DVD combo set comes complete with the original SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD breakdown reel - the same one used in its 1956 theatrical run. Also included are an image gallery, newsreel from the opening night in New York, a restoration demonstration on how the damaged negative was fixed, the Best in the Biz Cinerama composers documentary, the French Cinerama Everywhere short on Cinerama tent shows in Europe, a brand new SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD movie trailer, a black & white TV trailer, and a 1960 “abandoned” trailer." What is a "breakdown reel"? - Generally it is a short 35mm film used to occupy the audience in case there was an emergency problem in presenting the main feature. It's not that it was common but recall the projectionist may be responsible for "three strips of Cinerama plus a soundtrack". Plus the package contains a 28-page liner notes booklet (essay by Lowell Thomas, program, rare photos etc.) and 2 DVDs (containing feature and extras as found on the BD.)

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The unique cinema quality 'nostalgia factor' here is so embracing for those exposed to this process decades ago. I *think* there re still a couple more ("The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" and "Cinerama's Russian Adventure".). Visually this is such a treat! The perfect antidote to a Sunday afternoon or after-Saturday-dinner viewing for guests. The Flicker Alley Blu-ray is totally desirable.  Certainly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 15th, 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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