- Jul 20, 2007
- Real Name
- Timothy Ewanyshyn
Windjammer: The Voyage Of The Christian Radich is the only film to be released in the Cinemiracle process, which was designed to compete with Cinerama. In the early 1950s, new film processes like Cinerama, Cinemascope, and 3D were created to bring audiences who were watching television at home back to the movie theaters. Cinemiracle and Cinerama attempted to recreate the full range of human vision on a big screen, and consisted of 3 projectors running 3 adjacent panels of film simultaneously that was intended to appear as one wide image. Cinemiracle was very similar to Cinerama but used a 120° wide screen rather than a146° wide screen and the projectors had mirror enhancements to blend the join lines better between the 3 film panels. Cinerama ultimately bought out Cinemiracle and released Windjammer in full Cinerama. Flicker Alley has released a Blu-ray/DVD Combo of Windjammer with a plethora of special features.
Studio: Flicker Alley
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 2 hours, 22 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1(Smilebox)
Audio: English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English Dolby 2.0
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Windjammer: The Voyage Of The Christian Radich opens with an image of dark velvet curtains covering a curved movie screen. The screen here is actually a video reproduction of the screen at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. As the overture concludes, the curtains draw slowly back to reveal an introduction in Academy aspect ratio, after which the screen triples in size as the curtains draw back fully and the viewer has a panoramic view of the bow of the Norwegian windjammer The Christian Radich as it cruises over a sun-dappled ocean.
Windjammer: The Voyage Of The Christian Radich is a travelogue like many other Cinerama features. The young apprentice sailors on board the Christian Radich are on a grand adventure departing Oslo on a trip round the world. The voyage transports the viewer along with the sailors to ports of call in Spain, the West Indies, and New York City, among others. The travelogue highlights as the ship makes port are interspersed with vignettes in which the sailors sing songs and do their chores on the vessel as they travel the high seas. The kaleidoscopic photography in the New York scenes date the film in its style and execution, but that is also part of its charm.
Windjammer: The Voyage Of The Christian Radich served as an entertaining contemporary travelogue upon its initial release in 1958, and may be more interesting today than it was then as a time capsule of the ports of call of the world as they appeared in the not so distant past. Every scene involving the sailors is scripted, in spite of the appearance of spontaneity and verisimilitude, which makes Windjammer no more nor less real than any so-called reality show today. The Christian Radich and its sailors are used well as a bridging device to connect the episodes of the travelogue into a longer narrative. Of course, the story in a travelogue like this is typically secondary to the spectacle of the sights and sounds of each destination.
Windjammer: The Voyage Of The Christian Radich 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 box art on this Blu-ray/DVD Combo carries the Cinerama logo, and the intention appears to be to have this be a Cinerama presentation on a 146° screen rather than a Cinemiracle presentation on a 120° screen.
This edition shares the same restoration artists and producers of This Is Cinerama, the other Cinerama Blu-ray release from Flicker Alley that was released on September 25, 2012. As with This Is Cinerama, the producers have worked miracles and made this presentation look as great as it possibly can given their source materials and limited budget. The original 3-panel negatives are not beyond restoration, and do not presently suffer from the same damage as the originals for This Is Cinerama. The damage to the original negatives for Windjammer consists primarily of drastic color fluctuations between frames and panels. Although this can be fixed in a digital conversion, the expense is far beyond what the producers could budget at this time. Fortunately, the producers located a 35mm anamorphic print in excellent condition, but for the fading of colors. This print was converted into digital and then color boosted so that the 3 separate strips of panels would match. Panels on the original print line up properly at the join lines in all but a few instances, and the join lines blend reasonably well, although they never disappear entirely from view.
Since this was transferred from a 35mm print, fine detail is never going to be anywhere near as good as it would from the original negatives. The color scheme appears slightly less vibrant to my eye than it should, in spite of the artificial boosting of the digital files. Still, the presentation is very nice given the source materials and digital tools available for this transfer, and the producers have worked miracles in creating the best high definition version of this film possible under the present circumstances.
The English DTS-HD 5.1 audio is very good, and is the default audio of choice over the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. There is some audible hiss at times and is somewhat lacking in dynamic range, at least by modern standards, which becomes evident at times with dialogue and singing. Any flaws in the audio are minimal, however, and are not distracting from the entertainment at hand.
The special features include all of the following:
The Windjammer Voyage: A Cinemiracle Adventure(56:17): Documentary on production of the film.
The Christian Radich Today at the Aalbourg Denmark Tall Ships Festival 2010(6:12): Featurette showing the ship as it appeared in 2010.
Windjammer Gets A Facelift(12:08): Featurette demonstrates restoration performed on the film.
Windjammer Breakdown reel(13:52): This is the original interstitial footage that was projected in the theater anytime there was a breakdown of any one of the three projectors.
Windjammer trailer(2:34): Recreation of the original trailer in HD.
Windjammer Behind the Scenes Slideshow(9:08): This is a montage of still images of production photos and publicity materials.
Original Newspaper Ads Slideshow(1:53): This is a montage of still images of newspaper ads.
Cinemiracle Booklet Image Gallery: This is a facsimile of an original Windjammer Cinemiracle booklet. These images may be viewed using the left and right selection arrows on your remote control.
Also included is a flipper DVD with the feature on one side and the special features on the other.
Also included in the case is a very nice 28 page reproduction of the program guide for Cineramiracle with a short essay by restoration director Dave Strohmaier.
Windjammer on Blu-ray/DVD Combo is a fun travelogue good for all ages, is recommended to anyone who is a fan of Cinerama, and will probably create some new Cinerama fans as well. The Smilebox presentation elevates the quality of the film from what might otherwise seem mundane into an immersive experience. The video and audio presentation are as good as expected given the source materials available at this time. The special features are recommended, I would actually say essential, viewing to anyone who enjoys the film. Anyone who enjoyed the Smilebox presentation of This Is Cinerama from Flicker Alley will appreciate this film as well. I understand that other Cinerama presentations are being prepared for release from Flicker Alley in the near future. Those releases cannot come soon enough, and Windjammer comes recommended in the meantime.