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Russian Adventure, Cinerama, Blu-ray (1966/2016)

A great remastering of the Russian version of Cinerama into a wonderful (though now dated) Russian travelogue.

Russian Adventure, Cinerama, Blu-ray (1966/2016)

Narrator: Bing Crosby
Directors: Leonid Kristy, Roman Karmen, Boris Dolin, Oleg Lebedev, Solomon Kogan
Reconstruction & remastering: David Strohmaier
Studio: Cinerama Corp./Hal Dennis Productions/ Flicker Alley Deluxe Combo Edition FA0049 (11/22/16)
Video: Smile-Box simulated curved screen for 16:9 screens, 1080p color
Audio: English, DD 5.1, PCM stereo
Extras: Fortress of Peace (1964) a Swiss Army propaganda film in Cinerama; Concord (1966) a short about the soon-to-be active supersonic passenger jet; Working with our Father on Russian Adventure; Reconstructing Russian Adventure restoration demonstration; Russian Adventure trailer; Trailer gallery from other Cinerama films; Slideshows, ads and public materials from Russian Adventure; Facsimile of original program booklet.
Length: 127 min.
Rating: ****

This travelogue was originally shot by the Russians in their similar eight years of Kinopanorama productions. They gave copies of the original six three-panel productions to Cinerama to show in 127 minutes both a brand new and intimate view of their country and culture which was so often cited but seldom seen during the Cold War years. The Cinerama folks got Bing Crosby to be the narrator for this travelogue, and he first appears playing the balalaika.

The Cinerama feature is not quite as good as the U.S.-produced versions, but is still very impressive. Things begin with a traditional three-horse sled, the troika, speeding thru the snow. The widescreen shots in Russia feature the Kremlin, the Volga river, bustling street life and spring carnival with clowns, singing and dancing. There are many scenes at the Moscow Circus, a log raft on the Tisza river, a wild antelope roundup, and a performance by the famous Moiseyev Dances. There are scenes in Siberia, of course, with an emphasis on the many time changes in the far-flung country from East to West. There is a whaling ship voyage in the Arctic and the voyage beneath the sea of a huge octopus. Some of the scenes are really jaw-dropping, while others are boring as expected. The remastering crew really worked hard to get the three separate 35mm camera films to blend together into the widescreen panorama which later was done with a single 70 mm camera and lens. The Swiss Army short (in 70 mm) is amazingly militaristic, and the short on the Cinerama sons working with their father on the original film are quite fascinating.

— John Sunier

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