Blu-ray Review Windjammer: The Voyage Of The Christian Radich Blu-Ray Review

Timothy E

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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.































WINDJAMMER BLU-RAY/DVD Combo


Studio: Flicker Alley

Year: 1958

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


The Movie


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.


Video


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.


Audio


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.


Special Features


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.


Conclusion


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.



 

bigshot

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That "dated" New York sequence is by the famous news photographer Arthur "Weegee" Fellig. He was an amazing photographer and was the one who created the original "Naked City" photo essay that the film by the same name was based on. I had no idea he worked on this film. What a treat!
 
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Does anybody know who does the English narration? Here is an extensive credit list http://www.in70mm.com/newsletter/2001/66/windjammer/index.htm but it doesn't mention the narration. There's also no information at http://akas.imdb.com/title/tt0052397/combined
 

Timothy E

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The narrator was originally uncredited but credit has since been given to Erik Bye(The Last Place on Earth).
 

rsmithjr

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I was just at the Cinerama festival in LA. Discussing Windjammer, John Sittig of Cinerama Inc. stated that they did find the negatives to Windjammer BUT two reels were missing from one of the three panels. Hence, they turned to the 35mm print for their restoration (using the 7 channel sound track).
I suggest the reviewer might want to research this point and correct his review.
 

Timothy E

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rsmithjr /t/324062/windjammer-the-voyage-of-the-christian-radich-blu-ray-review#post_3982551
I was just at the Cinerama festival in LA. Discussing Windjammer, John Sittig of Cinerama Inc. stated that they did find the negatives to Windjammer BUT two reels were missing from one of the three panels. Hence, they turned to the 35mm print for their restoration (using the 7 channel sound track).
I suggest the reviewer might want to research this point and correct his review.
Thank you for providing this detail. My source of information is the special feature "Windjammer Gets A Facelift" in which David Strohmaier demonstrates that the original negative had serious fading and states there is some "missing negative" but I do not believe there is any further mention in the featurette that the extent of the missing negative is actually 2 full reels of one panel.
 

rsmithjr

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Timothy E said:
      Quote:
Thank you for providing this detail.  My source of information is the special feature "Windjammer Gets A Facelift" in which David Strohmaier demonstrates that the original negative had serious fading and states there is some "missing negative" but I do not believe there is any further mention in the featurette that the extent of the missing negative is actually 2 full reels of one panel. 
I also saw the very interesting documentary and it does tell a slightly different story.
The team at Cinerama has been restoring the other travelogues from the camera negatives. They showed Cinerama Holiday and South Seas Adventure at the show, which have been completed. The results were far better than I had expected. So, I would guess that the problems with Windjammer were substantial. Windjammer was done last year and the others have been done just this year, and it also appears that newer technology is dropping the costs on this work.
 

Strohmaier

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Yes the problems with Windjammer were considerable. 3 rolls of negative (B panel) were missing in sections of act -1 and the entire Norway montage (all three panels) was missing.
No YCM sep masters were done for this title nor would there have been funds in the budget had they existed. The heads and tail of each roll of negative (has a lot of physical damage in the first 10 feet or so. There are 12 rolls of neg per each act and there are 2 acts.
 

Dick

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[As the overture concludes, the curtains draw slowly back to reveal a black and white introduction in Academy aspect ratio, after which the screen changes to color and triples in size as the curtains draw back fully and the viewer has a panoramic view of the bow of the Norwegian windjammer]
Have you a different edition than I bought, in which the 12-minute intro is also in color?
 

Timothy E

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Dick /t/324062/windjammer-the-voyage-of-the-christian-radich-blu-ray-review#post_3985418
[As the overture concludes, the curtains draw slowly back to reveal a black and white introduction in Academy aspect ratio, after which the screen changes to color and triples in size as the curtains draw back fully and the viewer has a panoramic view of the bow of the Norwegian windjammer]
Have you a different edition than I bought, in which the 12-minute intro is also in color?
You are the first one to catch that, which was the result of screening both Cinerama releases at the same time and using the template for one to the other review.
The review has been updated to correct that.
 
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The complete elements of the film would have been deposited with the Library of Congress in order for the film to quality for copyright protection. But, again, as this was Eastman film stock the release prints would have similarly faded over time despite the meticulous storage of films at the L of C.
 

KPmusmag

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I found this LP of Windjammer today at a thrift store and just had to pick it up. I had it once upon a time and it was in a box of records that was lost in a move.

WP_20170819_14_32_53_Pro.jpg
 

Dick

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I found this LP of Windjammer today at a thrift store and just had to pick it up. I had it once upon a time and it was in a box of records that was lost in a move.

View attachment 39904
The score is wonderful. And a re-orchestration of the main theme by Morton Gould on the now-OOP CD "Digital Space" is sublime. Try to find a copy!
 

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