May contain spoilers!
Created as filler to use between major Cinerama performances during the early 1960’s, it is rumoured that there were other, rougher cut versions of this as early as 1960, but this, the “final” version as it were, was initially played in the interim before How The West Was Won (1962) hit theatres.
The cuts were rough, apparently, overt and careless splicing of clips was common place throughout. Made up of clips from the earliest Cinerama title, This Is Cinerama (1952) all the way to the 1958 South Seas Adventure, the five official travelogues are well represented here, in shortened and to the point segments.
In many ways, this film could be the best way to introduced someone to Cinerama, well the travelogues anyway, as How The West Was Won is a decent enough movie in its own right but the travelogues, This Is Cinerama (1952), Cinerama Holiday (1955), Seven Wonders Of The World (1956), Search For Paradise (1957) and South Seas Adventure (1958) can be difficult viewing for a modern audience.
Each serving as a propaganda film for post war America, Cinerama being an anagram of American, they are for the enthusiast, at best providing an insight into the way that America, or middle to upper class Americans, viewed themselves in relation to the rest of the world in the 1950’s, an era in which they believed that they had beaten the Nazis and nothing was beyond their reach.
The 1950’s; the first decade of The Cold War as we would know it, where technological advancement was seen as a weapon as powerful as the Atomic bombs which were being pointed at each other, the advancement in film was one of the most visible, with the Soviets attempting to get in on the action with their own version of Cinerama, Kinopanarama, with only one film being produced in that particular format. This was re-released in the mid 1960’s by Cinerama themselves as Cinerama’s Russian Adventure (1966).
I saw this at The Widescreen Weekend at Bradford, the World Premier of the restored version in fact. The sound was pristine, the picture was equally as well restored, though “restored” may well be the wrong word. I suspect that “improved” would be more appropriate. What David Strohmaier has achieved here is the recreation of the original vision of this and all the Cinerama films. The inherent imperfections are smoothed over, each panel is as consistent to its neighbour, as possible.
This is helped by the fact that instead of being projected on 3x 35mm film projectors, this was a Smilebox 2K digital presentation, not to dissimilar what you can expect at home with 1K (1080p) Blu-ray, except for the fact that it was being projected onto a 146 degree curved screen.
The presentation was great, a beautiful image with crisp and rich sound and those rough splices, all but eradicated. So is this a true representation of the film which would have been shown in cinemas back in the 1960’s? I doubt it but is this in fact better without going all George Lucas and changing things? Without a doubt. This captures the spirit of the movie, one which was cobbled together on the cheap to use a filler. Well now, thanks to this tireless restoration, the film is now more than it was and is a succinct finale to the Cinerama Travelogues and one which I believe serves as a great demonstration of what all the fuss was about, without taking a modern audience of semi-propaganda tour what the U.S. can offer post war world.
Photography by ©nEoPOL 2015 All rights reserved