I appears that Flicker Alley’s Smilebox Bluray of This Is Cinerama! (streeting on 9.25) makes the same mistake that Warner Home Video’s 2008 Smile box Bluray of How The West Was Won did — it delivers a rousing simulation of the original Cinerama presentation, but without the seam lines. And that’s bad because the seam lines are crucial in re-appreciating what Cinerama was in the ’50s and ’60s.
Here’s how I put it four years ago in a review of the How The West Was Won Bluray:
“Most DVD/Blu-ray reviewers are calling it a vast improvement over the way How The West Was Won looked on previously released discs, which had the vertical seams showing and the imperfect blending of the three frames plain as hell. But it’s an improvement only in the most bland cosmetic sense. It’s basically a digital reconstitution that erases what watching Cinerama films was really like.
“The old Cinerama seams are not something to avoid but to savor. Or at least accept. They were what they were, Cinerama was what it was, and the process shouldn’t be ‘upgraded’ on Blu-ray and DVD to the point that it doesn’t resemble what it originally loked like. Audiences in 1963 had to cope with these faint visual divides, and this is how present-day audiences should see How The West Was Won also. Clean up the dirt and sharpen the image, fine, but erasing the seams is the same kind of vandalism as the colorization of black-and-white films.
“On top of which the right, center and left images were never perfectly aligned, and I say roll with that also. The process was imperfect and so what? The old Cinerama technicians did the best they could with what they had to work with, and their work should be left alone and respected for what it was.”