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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cinerama's Russian Adventure [Blu-ray]

 

(Boris Dolin, Roman Karmen, Vasily Katanyan, Solomon Kogan, Leonid Kristi and Oleg Lebedev, 1966)

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Cinerama Productions Corp.

Video: Flicker Alley

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:07:48.994

Disc Size: 48,203,044,612 bytes

Feature Size: 33,689,255,040 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.01 Mbps

Chapters: 15

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: November 22nd, 2016

 

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 3999 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3999 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

Fortress of Peace (1964): A Swiss Army propaganda film shot in Cinerama and nominated for the 1965 Academy Award® for Best Live Action Short Film (21:57)
Concorde (1966): A 70mm Cinerama short about the then soon-to-be-unveiled supersonic airplane (15:07)
Working With Our Father on Russian Adventure: An interview with film editors Craig and Hal Dennis Jr., sons of producer Hal Dennis (24:39)
Reconstructing Russian Adventure: A restoration demonstration with Dave Strohmaier (12:43)

A Look At Some old Cinema Equipment (2:08)
Russian Adventure Trailer: Theatrical trailer (5:01)
Trailer Gallery: Collection of trailers from other Cinerama shows (41:13)
Slideshows: Ads and publicity materials, sample scripts pages, and Russian Adventure Study Guide (8:22)
• 32-page Program Booklet: A facsimile representation of the original program booklet

Second disc DVD included

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Photographed over an eight-year period by Russia's top filmmakers, Cinerama's Russian Adventure brings together some of the most exquisite, jaw-dropping, and beautiful sequences from over six Soviet Kinopanorama productions (the Russian equivalent of three-panel Cinerama). The film's locations stretch from one end of Russia to the other, from the snow-covered countryside to the majestic subways of Moscow, from the deck of a whaling ship to the front seats of the Bolshoi Theater. Bing Crosby narrates the journey, offering both a grand and intimate view of a country and culture so often cited and yet so seldom seen.

In classic Cinerama style, your first glimpse of Russia is from behind the reigns of a troika, a traditional three-horse sled, speeding through the snow. Next, you'll land in Moscow for spectacular shots of the Kremlin, the Volga River, the bustling street life, and a spring carnival complete with singing, dancing, and clowns on stilts. From there, you'll marvel at the dazzling Moscow Circus, take a raft ride down the Tisza River, join in a wild antelope roundup on the Barsa-Kelmes, and witness a show-stopping performance of the famous Moiseyev Dancers. The most visceral sequences, though, take place not on land, but on water: the spare-no-details whale hunt aboard a factory ship in the Antarctic and the alien voyage of an octopus as it glides beneath the sea.

Flicker Alley, Cinerama Inc., and the family of Hal Dennis / Hal Dennis Productions are proud to present Cinerama's Russian Adventure in the Smilebox® Curved Screen Simulation. The film has been digitally remastered, and beautifully so, allowing audiences to experience - in the words of Bing Crosby - "what I believe will be our most exciting journey..."

 

 

The Film:

Towards the worthy purpose of cultural exchange, "Russian Adventure" shows some bold activities of Russian adventures from the Arctic Circle to the gray Antarctic seas, from the eastern stretches of Siberia to Moscow and Leningrad. It makes a hurried sweep of the nation, its sights and citizens. Like most such wide-screen travel pictures, it does best with the spectaculars.

It is most vivid and exciting, for instance, when the color cameras are racing along in front of a jingling troika (a three-horse sleigh) charging boldly through the snow, or following alongside (and in the midst of) a group of racing reindeer-drawn sleighs, or plunging down a roaring river aboard a mammoth, three-man-guided raft of logs, or watching the Moiseyev Dancers fill the air with leaps and twirls.

These are the stuff of wide-screen interest, as are certain dazzling panoramic scenes of wheat fields ripe with golden harvest or of icebergs in the southern seas or of a spring carnival in Moscow, with costumed revelers and fireworks in the night.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

 

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

Cinerama's Russian Adventure is released at the same time as Best of Cinerama on Blu-ray from Flicker Alley. I'd say the image quality is about the same as the other Cinerama BDs that we have reviewed - This is Cinerama, Cinerama Holiday, Cinerama South Seas Adventure, Cinerama's Seven Wonders of the Worlds and Cinerama's Search For Paradise. There is some softness/minor waxiness but I would guess it to be inherent. The 'Cinerama effect' is still in full force and there are some great visuals. The vertical disconnect is not really a factor in-motion - often appearing only like a shadow on the left seam. This is dual-layered with a supportive bitrate and it produces a strong presentation with no signs of digital manipulation. Daylight and areal scenes can be awesome. I saw no noise. This Blu-ray seems another fine replication of the Roadshow presentation - complete with opening, intermission and closing sequences.

 

NOTE: The 'Intermission' delay is about 4-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 3999 kbps (24-bit) and sounds tremendous. This surround has some appealing separations. It is exceptionally clear notable with Aleksandr Lokshin's score and music during the ballet and traditional dancing performances. I would say there are surprising moments of depth and it does sound quite beautiful. There is also a simple 2.0 channel linear PCM option included. There are English subtitles offered for the narration (see sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

No commentary on Cinerama's Russian Adventure but we do get Fortress of Peace - a 22-minute, 1964, Swiss Army propaganda film shot in Cinerama and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. Concorde (1966) is a 70mm Cinerama, 15-minute, short about the then soon-to-be-unveiled supersonic airplane. Working With Our Father on Russian Adventure is a 25-minute interview with film editors Craig and Hal Dennis Jr., sons of producer Hal Dennis. Reconstructing Russian Adventure is a 13-minute restoration demonstration with Dave Strohmaier and we also can see a brief piece on some old Cinema Equipment. After that are trailers; a 5-minute Russian Adventure theatrical trailer plus a gallery with 40-minutes worth of trailers from other Cinerama shows. Included is an 8-minute slideshows with ads and publicity materials, sample scripts pages, and Russian Adventure Study Guide and lastly the package contains a 32-page liner notes booklet: a facsimile representation of the original Russian Adventure booklet. There is also a second disc DVD included in the case.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is still totally unique and thrilling to watch - I really got a sense of being there - akin to when this Roadshow version was originally shown. It incorporates both a nostalgia factor, and a historic look at a less-promoted culture. I'd also say that the visuals were impressive from the horse-drawn sledding to the Moscow Circus to the Moiseyev Dancers. Intriguing. This remains a wonderful curiosity and its availability on Blu-ray should appeal to many. We should remember how few of these were made (less than 10?) and the HD format can allow fans to step back in time and drink deep of this now-uncovered technological experience! There really is nothing like it and I have played these Cinerama adventures for many friends in my Home Theater and they always watch with fascination. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 18th, 2016

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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