Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cinerama night

TCM is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the wide-screen process Cinerama this evening, starting with a documentary called Cinerama Adventure at 8:00 PM (and repeated at midnight), followed by the first of the Cinerama films, This is Cinerama, at 9:45 PM. They'll also be showing How the West Was Won, which was originally filmed in Cinerama, at 2:00 AM.

Now, as you can probably guess, there's a bit of a problem for TCM here, as there would have been for the folks making the documentary. TV screens don't have the rather extreme curvature necessary to show Cinerama as it should be seen authentically. No amount of letterboxing is going to get the original Cinerama experience. I suppose in theory they could show the three sources for a Cinerama film on three separate channels and have everybody set up three TVs with the appropriate curvature. No, I'm not being serious. About the closest I can think of is TV stations back in the day (this being the early 1980s) showing a 3D movie (Jaws 3 if memory serves) and having a promotion to give out those old red-green 3D glasses. Woe betide the people who couldn't get 3D glasses in time. I don't have one of those newfangled 3D TVs, and I don't see myself getting one any time soon: I don't like the eye strain. I also don't have a home theater with the curved screen necessary to watch Cinerama, and certainly don't have the space for it. I'm sure very few people do.

Back to the Cinerama documentary, I think I recall how they simulate Cinerama, although I may not be right. I'm not certain whether I saw this particular documentary on TCM before, or whether I saw the bits on Cinerama only in the original documentary on Merian Cooper, I'm King Kong, that first aired several years ago; Cooper was one of the driving forces behind getting Cinerama to the screen back in 1952. If the same technique used in I'm King Kong is used in Cinerama Adventure, it's one that I have to admit I found none too satisfying.

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