Cinemascope has it’s beginning as far back as 1926. with French innovator, as many of cinemas’ greatest inventors were, Professor Henri Chrétien, coming up with the anamorphic process, then known as Anamorphoscope. But the modern uses and implementation of the format, which has the screen ratio of between 2.35:1 its original incarnation 2.55:1. Using the basic principles applied by modern widescreen televisions, the widescreen image is compressed into the 1:37:1 (1:35:1 on TV) and stretched out by an opposing lens during projection.
But today, 16th September back in 1953 saw the premier of the worlds first Cinemascope movie, The Robe. Coming just weeks before the rival and pioneering widescreen format, Cinerama’s first birthday, The Robe heralded the new era of widescreen cinema, complete with the next major innovation of the 1950’s, stereophonic sound!
Cinerama led the way a year earlier but the ambitious three-panel (projector) system was just to unwieldy and too limited to work in the long-term but Cinemascope’s anamorphic process would live on right up until the present day. But Cinemascope’s biggest selling point was as an alternative to the 50’s 3D craze, with the ridiculous slogan “experience 3D without the silly glasses” or something to that effect.
It was in fact Cinerama which first came up with the surround sound concept but it was Twentieth Century Fox’s Cinemascope which began the format’s journey into history, with the 2.35:1 format being the preferred on the silver screen. But true Cinemascope, 2.55:1 would fall in to decline, with Panavision being adopted by the mainstream, but as The Robe and How To Marry A Millionaire, which was actually finished first, though released second, in 1953, by 1967 the format would release its swansongs with In Like Flint and Caprice finishing off the 14 year run.
But the terms Cinemascope and Scope would find their way into common cinema culture in regards to windscreen as would the image of the curved screen, a direct rip-off of the earlier Cinerama format, which was actually projected onto a 146 degree curved screen. Cinemascope was not.
This is the second anniversary in as many years of a major innovation in cinema, though unlike Cinerama and its fundamental influence of widescreen cinema, this is the more relatable and the format which many well-known and loved movies were produced, rather than the only notable Cinerama film being How The West Was Won (1962). The Robe alone, was considerably better.