1952 ***** 127 mins.
This is Cinerama is a milestone in filmmaking. Up to the early 1950s, films had only ever been shot in a nearly square, Academy aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 and mostly been presented in monaural sound. This is Cinerama changed all that. This film begins with an Academy ratio introduction by Lowell Thomas, in which he discusses the history of capturing images, evolving into the motion picture. He then discusses this new form of entertainment...CINERAMA! Cinerama is the technique that introduced widescreen to the world. Like the final reel of Abel Gance's Napoleon 25 years before, Cinerama was a technique which used three cameras shooting simultaneously. The three film negatives would then be projected via three separate projectors on an enormous, curved wide screen. The effect of Cinerama is to accurately recreate the entire field of human vision. After Lowell Thomas says the title, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is Cinerama!" curtains open to reveal the rest of the giant screen, literally taking viewers on a roller coaster ride! From there, the film is meant to showcase the wonders of Cinerama, by showing viewers sights, sounds, and experiences from around the world, the likes of which they had never seen before! Cinerama was also more than just an inimitable viewing experience. It was also a crisp, clear stereophonic sound experience, creating an all immersive motion picture. Unfortunately, the Cinerama technique was expensive, and the equipment was bulky, impractical, and didn't lend itself very well to dramatic storytelling. In fact, only two dramatic films were made using the Cinerama technique, How the West was Won and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. Only a handful of other Cinerama films were produced, and they were all travelogues, offering more of the sights, sounds, and wonders presented in This is Cinerama. The wonder of this technique, though, led to Twentieth Century Fox creating CinemaScope, and from there, the widescreen trend exploded. There's still something quaint and special about watching this film, though, especially in its restored, remastered form on Blu-ray, presented in "Smilebox," which imitates the curvature of the Cinerama screen. The Blu-ray is also loaded with special features that give further insight into this incredible film.
Original theatrical aspect ratio: 2.59:1 (Cinerama)