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This Is Cinerama (1952)

G  |   |  Documentary  |  5 January 1955 (Japan)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 312 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 13 critic

A standard screen B&W prologue during which Lowell Thomas shows how, from the dawn of history, mankind has attempted to create the illusion of depth & movement by artistic, mechanical and ... See full summary »

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Title: This Is Cinerama (1952)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Lowell Thomas ...
Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

A standard screen B&W prologue during which Lowell Thomas shows how, from the dawn of history, mankind has attempted to create the illusion of depth & movement by artistic, mechanical and photographic means. Cinerama format opens with Rockaway Playland Roller Coaster, then Temple Dance from "Aida", views of Niagra Falls, Long Island Choir - an early test of CineramaSound in B&W -, Canals of Venice, Edinburgh Military Tattoo, bullfight and musical performance in Spain, Act II finale of "AIDA" at La Scala Opera House, Milan. "Intermission 15 minutes" Act II commences with a sound demonstration - "we call it stereophonic sound" says LT. Then to Cypress Gardens, Florida, for trick water skiing and boating scenes. The last half of Act II- "America the Beautiful"- is viewed from the nose of a low flying B-25 aeroplane. Finally, credits. Written by David Coles <mitchell@zeta.org.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The film with a new dimension See more »

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 January 1955 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Esto es Cinerama  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(2012 restoration)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.59 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Original director Robert J. Flaherty became ill and died shortly after filming Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Chicago on April 26, 1951, a wet and windy day. The sequence was not included. See more »

Goofs

In the otherwise wonderful "America the Beautiful" segment, Yosemite Falls is called Bridal Veil Falls in the narration. Also, the Sierra Nevada mountains are said to be in western California, not eastern, which is their correct location. See more »

Connections

Edited from The Kiss (1896) See more »

Soundtracks

Finale of Act II
(uncredited)
from the opera "Aida"
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Part travelogue, part Hollywood Review of '29
6 October 2002 | by (Long Beach, CA) – See all my reviews

Saw the World "Re-Premier" of "This Is Cinerama" yesterday at the Cinerama Dome, Hollywood. For the record, I also experienced it as a kid in '53 at Warner's Cinerama Theater in Hollywood, and at it's reissue at the same Cinerama Dome in 1972 (in single frame format...not three camera). It was a slightly unsettling occasion, as the roadshow ticket price of $11.00 promised a fully restored print, restored three camera operation, and two additional channels of stereophonic sound. I realized that the materials extant were rescued from a state of severe decomposition, but I was happy to plunk down my dollars for the good of the cause of saving three-camera Cinerama for movie posterity. Even as late as 1972, before IMAX and during the demise of 70mm, "This Is Cinerama" was still an exciting revelation, in spite of the kitsch and hokum of the Cypress Gardens sequences and some awkward ballet and church choir shots. The roller coaster opening still packed a wallop as this was before the roller coaster building boom and the numerous thrill rides (and thrill ride movies) that exist today (I maintain the the re-issue of this film in 1972 sparked the roller coaster building revival). But sadly, when viewed today, the Cinerama experience is woefully dated (in spite of the beliefs of the legion of Cinerama diehards who filled the Dome's 1,000 or so seats to 2/3's capacity). Shot in static camera lockdown, it plays like the early talkie musicals shot from the middle of the auditorium. The color in many of the sequences is atrocious, as it was even in 1952, and is especially apparent where three scenes are three distinct shades. The three strips would hardly ever synch-up for the showing I attended and many times exhibited glaring gaps between scenes. The roller coaster opening does not thrill the way it once did, because audiences have become jaded by even better filmed sequences done for IMAX...shot on hairier modern coasters much more thrilling than the ancient and now defunct "Atom Smasher" at Rockaway's" PlayLand. And the once highly touted Cinerama screen itself seems not as mighty as it once was, thanks to IMAX. I think many of the attendees yesterday were thinking they were really going to see something, but what they got was cornball narration, cornball dialogue and high-camp imagery straight out of a hermetically sealed 1950's can. I must say, that even for a battle tested cineast as myself, this material is tough sledding. But, in spite of all its shortcomings, this extravaganza does offer some tasty morsels for the film buff: glimpses of the Queen's Guards at Edinburgh Castle, some nice gondolier action in Venice and some crackling good camp in the form of the procession from Aida filmed inside the vast Milan opera house. We then end on a sweeping in-flight tour of the United States to the strains of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and "The Battle Hymm of the Republic." We can see where Walt Disney would borrow a lot of his material for a little TV show he would produce in a few years-"Disneyland"-from narrator Lowell Thomas (who "out-Walts Uncle Walt") in the black and white opening sequence on the history of the movies. Yep, Cinerama is the Grandaddy of them all, but like a lot of grandaddies, sometimes they are better off hidden away from view somewhere lest they shock the rest of the family due to their advanced state of dotage. The Arclight Company and Cinerama Dome say that if this re-release of "This Is Cinerama" is a success (it's only playing for one week), the majority of the seven productions in the process may be restored and exhibited. I'd go and see them, sure. But if the murmuring and disappointed crowd I saw leaving the theater yesterday has their say, I say to the folks at Cinerama: "Good Luck!"


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