This is Cinerama at the Cinerama Dome, Hollywood On Friday night, October 4, I had the pleasure of being in the audience for the "recreation" of the Cinerama experience at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, CA. Along with the recent renovation to the Dome, which included improvements in leg room and decor, a three projector Cinerama setup was installed. This is Cinerama will play for one week, with possible showings of How the West Was Won contingent on the success of the initial showings. So what was the "Cinerama experience" like? Our seats were excellent, since I bought our tickets over a month ago. On arrival, I was surprised and disappointed to see the theater just over half full (on opening night!). I suppose all the hard-core Cinerama fans already got their fix in Ohio years ago? The theater was quite gracious, with a Cinerama camera on display in the lobby, along with Cinerama programs on sale for $5, and tours of the projection booth after the show. Having read descriptions of This is Cinerama over the years, I had a general idea of what to expect. I was anxious to actually experience Cinerama as it had been 50 years ago (or as close as possible, the Cinerama Dome doesn't have the louvred screen used in original Cinerama installations). The film started as expected, with narrator Lowell Thomas presented in 1.33:1 black and white, giving a 10 minute overview of imaging technology, starting with caveman paintings. The history lesson ended with the culmination of motion picture technology: Cinerama! As Mr. Thomas exclaimed the famous phrase: "Ladies and Gentleman, THIS IS CINERAMA!", the entire screen came alive and we found ourselves in the loading station of a rollercoaster, and now in Cinerama. Most incredible is the size of the screen. For anyone used to seeing conventional 35mm films at the Dome, it is immediately apparent that we're seeing quite a bit more screen than normal. I would guess that 35mm films fill, at most, 60% of the Dome's screen. The size of the screen, combined with the absolute grainless clarity of the film, made for a shocking experience. Throughout the entire show, there were a few problems with faded or scratched film. The sound was also excellent (there was an unavoidable presence of analog hiss throughout, but it wasn't very objectionable). In general, the quality of the print was excellent. "This is Cinerama" consists of travelogue type material, with most segments being 5-10 minutes in length. From the initial rollercoaster segment, we are taken to Niagra Falls, church choirs, and European opera and festivals. I was most impressed with the editing of the segments. With a few exceptions, they were edited tightly; it was rare to find my attention wandering. Also endearing was the overall tone of the movie: it was pure 1952. The narration and corny jokes and observations were pure 1952, and elicited more than a few chuckles. There were also some "un PC" elements; most memorable was a European opera showing a prosession of countries, and an African country was represeneted by (white) dancers dressed in black suits, with black paint on their faces, bounding around the stage like monkeys . After the shorter "travelogue" segments, we got a 15 minute intermission ("Intermission" card complete with an illustration of two smoking cigarettes). After the intermission, we got a few minutes of orchaestral demo in the incredible surround sound of Cinerama. I imagine this was pretty shocking to audiences of 1952 who hadn't heard surround sound (or stereo sound) yet (except for the lucky few who heard Fantasound for Fantasia). As mentioned before, the sound quality was very good, with excellent dynamic range, but everpresent tape noise. Sound restoration was provided by Chace Labs, so I imagine the sound is as good as it's going to get. The post-intermission film consisted of two longer segments. The first highlighted a Florida swamp/ waterpark, where southern belles dressed in "Scarlett O' Hara" dresses would sit on idyllic green grass as Venice-like canal boats toured the manicured gardens. After several minutes of the pleasent tour, the entertainment gets kicked into high gear, as the girls strip off their dresses to reveal their bathing suits, and run out to the waterski show. Between the guys in mini-speedboats, and the girls waterskiing, along with assorted other water characters (waterskiing clowns, a guy waterskiing on a kitchen chair...), this was my favorite segment. Again, it was nimbly edited, and just a lot of fun. To end the film, we got a coast-to-coast tour of the great places of the United States. A very long tour of the United States. If you ever wondered what Gary, Indiana looked like circa 1952 from 2000 feet, now's your chance to find out. While I appreciated much of the tour, and much of it was spectacular, did I really need to see Pittsbury, PA? Or the worlds largest open copper mine in Utah? I did like the soundtrack to this segment, and it was fun to hear the reverential tone of the "Salt Lake" Tabernacle Choir as we soared over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and other western landmarks, but this was one segment that probably meant a lot more to audiences of 1952, most of whom probably hadn't been on an airplane. The film was followed up with a spectacular trailer for How the West Was Won, and it looked great. If the whole film looks that good, it will be a great treat. When it was all over, my wife and I were thrilled. I hope the showings prove rewarding to the Cinerama Dome, and encourage them to present other Cinerama films. I would love to see Cinerama Holiday for the Christmas season.