New DVD releases this week include one huge blockbuster and two DVDs designed for movie-buff collectors, specifically those who recall the glory days of 70mm films projected on a huge, curved, Cinerama screen.
For many fans of home movie watching, this week’s release of Marvel’s Avengers may well be the DVD of the year. Released on Blu-Ray in combo packages and regular DVD, Marvel’s Avengers was such an enormous box-office hit, the enormity of its success surprised even its makers. To get an idea of just how big this became, pre-sale tickets for the film before it was released exceeded those of Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America combined during the same period by over 150%. And no surprise, even for those who could usually care less about superhero films, Marvel’s Avengers captured audience’s imaginations because of it human content as well as the action and special effects. It never took itself overly seriously and yet remained respectful to the genre. I’m sure it will be flying off the shelves.
Regular readers to this column may have read regular references to the system of Cinerama. It originated in the 50’s as a way of enticing people out of their homes and back into the theatres, giving audiences something that TV could never give; size and scope. Films like It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, 2001: A Space Odyssey and How The West Was Won were all presented in varying forms of Cinerama, but no film will give you a better idea of what the system was all about than the 60th anniversary Blu-Ray edition of This Is Cinerama. Imagine an IMAX screen but bigger, wider, and curved to give you a you-are-there wrap around feeling. The film is essentially a travelogue designed to show off the scope of Cinerama imagery. Obviously, a flat TV screen can never do justice to what the curved screen can do, so the makers have created a system called Smileyvision or Smileybox which curves the image creating the Cinerama effect.
Here’s a picture from the Smileyvision version of How The West Was Won to give you an idea of what I mean.
And in the same vein, the Smileyvision treatment has also been given to the 1958 spectacular called Windjammer. This was a film something similar to This Is Cinerama but filmed in a system called Cinemiracle. Windjammer tells of a 17,000 mile journey around the world with staggering 70mm photography. Those who thrilled to the recent Samsara release two weeks ago should thrill to Windjammer. The bonus feature includes a new documentary on how the film was made. Both This is Cinerama and Windjammer are musts for the movie-buff collector. Now, if only all films made for the Cinerama screen were re-released on Blu-Ray in the Smileyvision system. Keep looking for The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.
More new DVD and Blu-Ray releases next week.