- Jul 20, 2007
- Real Name
- Timothy Ewanyshyn
The sublime restoration of this film should be designated the Eighth Wonder of the World. Seven Wonders of the World(1956), the 3rd Cinerama feature film, has been digitally restored from less than ideal film prints into a virtually pristine Smilebox presentation in this Blu-ray/DVD combo that also includes a miniature replica of the original souvenir program for Seven Wonders of the World. This film is a wonderful time capsule of the wonders of the world as they appeared in 1956.
Distributed By: Other
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DD
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: X Hr. X Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVDAmaray
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 11/11/2014
The Pan Am Airlines Cinerama Clipper, with narrator Lowell Thomas, takes viewers on an adventure around the world to see the Seven Wonders of the World, and other landmarks of the world, in this travelogue film that was the third feature film produced by the creators of Cinerama, after This Is Cinerama(1952) and Cinerama Holiday(1954). The wonders of North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe, including the Middle East are covered, from the skyscrapers of New York City to the pyramids of Egypt and the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, with seemingly all points of interest in between. (Australia was saved for the release of South Seas Adventure in 1958). As in other Cinerama films, the spectacle of speed is presented in a sequence featuring a runaway train. The startling aerial footage in this film was not obtained without its risks. Legend has it that stunt pilot Paul Mantz crashed his plane immediately after procuring the aerial footage of a volcano in this film.Seven Wonders of the World is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio in the Smilebox format, which recreates the appearance of a Cinerama presentation on a flat screen by having the far side panels of the screen elongated to simulate the curved appearance of the 2.59:1 aspect ration on a 146° screen.The producers of this restoration have excelled themselves again in making this presentation look as great as it does now given their source materials and limited budget. The original negatives suffered from vinegar syndrome, lacquer damage, missing film rolls, and a variety of other issues that made a full restoration almost impossible.Seven Wonders of the World is up to the same high standard as the earlier Cinerama films released in HD over the last few years, and actually better than This Is Cinerama which, although it also looks great, has not had the original negative even in existence since the 1970s. Although Seven Wonders of the World does not have much in the way of a narrative structure, as was created with the artifice of the 2 married couples in Cinerama Holiday(1955), it really is not necessary for the actual Seven Wonders of the World, and this film is up to the same high standards of the preceding Cinerama travelogues.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
Seven Wonders of the World is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio in the Smilebox format, which recreates the appearance of a Cinerama presentation on a flat screen by having the far side panels of the screen elongated to simulate the curved appearance of the 2.59:1 aspect ration on a 146° screen.The join lines between the 3 panels are rarely visible. Colors are vibrant and slightly darker at times at the edges, leading to the minor visibility of the join lines. Shadow detail and fine detail are excellent. Grain is non-existent, which is not surprising since the larger 6 perf panels were never grainy in theatrical presentations owing to their size and format. The producers have wrought a miracle here by creating a Smilebox presentation that approaches the quality of the blu-ray of How The West Was Won, but on a fraction of the budget used on that transfer.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is, like the video presentation, almost flawless.The audio is primarily narration, sound effects, and music score with great dynamic range and no audible hiss. The packaging describes the audio as 5.1 STS-HD Master but it is actually Dolby Digital 5.1 with an option for Dolby Digital Stereo. The 5.1 audio was created from the original 7 channel mix. Since the film audio is almost exclusively narrated dialogue and music, I am not sure that there was any special directional audio in the original audio mix, but perhaps other experts can contribute here. Suffice it to say that there are no apparent flaws or defects in the audio, and it is hard to say how it could be improved, if at all.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Trailer(5:54)(HD): This is a special trailer prepared during the restoration of this film.TV Trailer(0:52)(SD): Lowell Thomas invites viewers to join him in visiting theSeven Wonders of the World in this black and white trailer prepared for television.Abandoned Trailer(3:52)(SD): This trailer was created in 1956 as a non-Smilebox Cinemascope trailer in which the footage from all 3 Cinerama panels weretransferred to a single reel of film.Seven Wonders Breakdown reel(11:24)(SD): This is the original interstitial footage that was projected in the theater anytime there was a breakdown in any one of the three projectors. It consists of Lowell Thomas explaining the technical challenges during a presentation breakdown and the cultural impact of the first 2 Cinerama films with a series of anecdotes from the avuncular producer.Newsreel Opening Night in New York(2:58)(SD): This is footage of the celebrities and dignitaries attending the premiere in New York, including a brief interview with Joan Crawford, who is seen holding the Souvenir Program for the film. A miniature replica of the Program is included in this Blu-ray/DVD combo release.Restoration Demonstration of Seven Wonders(15:07)(HD): Restoration directorDavid Strohmaier and others discuss the source materials and demonstrate the scanning of the original 3 panels of footage and remastering in restoring the film.Restoration of Seven Wonders created some unique challenges. For one thing, the center "A" roll of the 3 "BAC" reels had been removed decades ago to create a 1:33.1 presentation of the Seven Wonders of the World for schools and libraries. In addition, 7 rolls of the original "BAC" negative were lost, and the footage needed to be replaced by use of deposit prints held by the Library of Congress. Even worse, much of the footage that had not been lost had been lacquered in attempts to preserve it over the years, but which had actually caused print damage. Vinegar syndrome and color fading were also problems that had to be resolved."Best in the Biz" Cinerama Composers Documentary(57:47)(HD): Sound was considered as significant as sight by the creators of Cinerama, and the contributions to these films by noted composers is discussed. Said composers included Max Steiner(Gone With The Wind), Roy Webb(Notorious), Emil Newman(The Mad Magician), Alex North(A Streetcar Named Desire), and Dimitri Tiomkin(High Noon, Giant)."Cinerama Everywhere"(8:23)(SD): This French promotional film presents the road train, like a traveling circus, that transports crew and equipment through France, and around the world, in showing Cinerama films in various localities. This short is black and white and narrated in French with English subtitles.Behind the Scenes Slideshow(4:36)(HD): This is a presentation of stills of photographs taken during production of the film.Also included is a handsome 28 page replica booklet of the original souvenir program for Seven Wonders of the World.
Special Features Rating: 5/5
Seven Wonders of the World on Blu-ray/DVD Combo is a fascinating time capsule of the world of 1956 and recommended to anyone who is a fan of Cinerama. It is fantastic to see these parts of the world as they appeared in the mid 1950s with the styles, fashions, and vehicles of the world shown as they were then and preserved for us now in high definition. It is difficult to imagine how the audio and video presentations could be improved upon above their restoration in this presentation. The special features are, like the film itself, highly recommended, particularly the Restoration Demonstration of Seven Wonders which explains better than I can the miracles wrought by Cinerama, Inc. and Image Trends in reassembling the roadshow presentation into such a great presentation out of the puzzle pieces that needed to be collected, preserved, and assembled to give us this Blu-ray/DVD Combo. Seven Wonders of the World is highly recommended, as are all of theother 5 Cinerama films released on Blu-ray by Flicker Alley. Although each release may be a little pricier than the average Blu-ray, these Cinerama releases are more than worth every penny.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Timothy E
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