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Congratulations to the Cinecon team on a successful 47th annual event. The longtime Los Angeles silent/classic cinema screening event was just this past weekend. A festival which itself has a very impressive history, has been unveiling rare and interesting films for almost fifty years, and more recently has started incorporating documentaries that focus on communicating the importance film preservation. After the success of last year’s screening of the documentary Keepers of the Frame (1999) which advocates for the importance of restoration and preservation, this year Cinecon screened the 2002 documentary Cinerama Adventure about the Cinerama widescreen process.

Fall 2012 will mark the 60th anniversary of Cinerama; a three-camera, three-projector ‘virtual reality’ cinema process which used widescreen and peripheral vision (as well as surround-sound) to give the sensation of 3D without the use of special glasses. Part loving-portrait and part catalyst for raising awareness about the importance of film preservation, ‘Cinerama Adventure’ certainly did its job to re-invigorate excitement about this historic phenomenon.


In 1928 at the London Tivoli, Abel Gance’s masterpiece Napoleon was shown from three projectors onto a triple width screen (what’s called a triptych). Inspired by this experience, twenty four years later, Paramount special effects master, Fred Waller in collaboration with Michael Todd, developed a large screen system called Cinerama. It utilized three cameras to record a single image, and three electronically synchronized projectors to project this image on a huge screen curved at an angle of 146 degrees.

In Cinerama’s ten year history, seven truly Cinerama films (and many imitations inaccurately it as a moniker) were produced, mostly in the style of travelogues, but were really adventure/explorer films. Sadly, the process was abandoned in 1966. But for many cinemagoers – including Cinerama Adventure Producer Randy Gitsch and Producer/Director/Writer David Strohmaier – the age of Cinerama has been reinvigorated with this documentary. The film is adding to a renewed appreciation for the process; shifting from its conception as its trivialization as passing fad to an important phenomenon in popular consciousness that ultimately encouraged a ‘widescreen revolution’. To preserve these films the way they were intended to be seen, a wholly new digital preservation technique called Smilebox has been devised to bring the curved screen to cinemas, and home-viewers.

Smilebox - Cinerama Adventure

Smilebox technology provides a simulated Cinerama image.

At Flicker Alley, we continue to be fascinated in these kind of historical technologies in film history. Thus, we’re very excited about the announcement made at Cinecon that the 60th anniversary of Cinerama will be celebrated September 28th-October 4th 2012 with series of special screenings in Los Angeles likely at the beloved Cinerama Dome, just a few blocks from the Flicker Alley offices! The event will showcase all seven Cinerama films, some in their original form and some digitally restored, including the ‘Cinemiracle‘ feature Windjammer (1958).

As our mission is to bring film history to new audiences, we are very excited about these upcoming restorations and their un-veiling in all their Cinerama glory next September! Cinerama Adventure and the news accompanying it was definitely aCinecon 47 highlight for us.

Note: For more titles from Abel Gance, check out our releases La Roue and J’Accuse.

Flicker Alley