On the Trail of "Windjammer" - A Visit
This article first appeared in
The 70mm Newsletter
Issue 46 - September 1996
Norwegian hosts live from an Oslo basement storage for Bauer U2s. Left to
right: Peter Andren (Sweden), Jan Olsen and Torkell Sætervadet (Norway),
Willem Bouwmeester (Holland), and Thomas Hauerslev (Denmark. Image by Thomas
In late 1995 I left Copenhagen by train bound
for Oslo, the beautiful capital of Norway. The goal of the journey was an
interview with the director of "Windjammer", Mr Louis de
Rochemont III. The interview had been arranged by Mr Willem Bouwmeester, a
long-time Cinerama and Cinemiracle enthusiast. Willem, a native Dutch
fellow, was in Stockholm on IMAX business and we should meet in Oslo the
same evening. The train ride took 10 hours so I had a lot of time to prepare
my knowledge about Cinemiracle and "Windjammer".
In Oslo we were greeted welcome by local projectionist and Bauer U2 aficionado
Mr Torkel Sætervadet. We stayed in his flat, enjoyed his hospitality and Norwegian
beer. I had met Torkel in Copenhagen a month earlier and accepted his
invitation to stay with him.
The first evening ended around 2 AM in the morning. The next day, refreshed
from a good nights sleep, we took off to meet one of the stars of "Windjammer"
Mr Harald Tusberg. Before our meeting we had breakfast at a cafe at the
famous Carl Johan pedestrian street in down town Oslo. At 10:30 we had a
meeting with technical chief Mr Guttorm Petterson of Oslo Kinematografer. We
discussed the possibility of installing 3-strip equipment at Colosseum for a
short season with "Windjammer". Guttorm was interested in
the project, but did not have the final word in this case. Additionally, as
Oslo Kinematografer will be dealing with enthusiasts, they will probably
demand some sort of financial guarantee. After the visit to Oslo
Kinematografer, straight on to Harald Tusberg who turned out to be a delightful
fellow with a good sense of Norwegian humor. Having been employed by NRK
(Norwegian State TV) for nearly a quarter of a century. Harald is known by
every man in Norway. Harald is deeply involved working with Friends of S/S
Further in 70mm reading:
The Return of
Windjammer the queen of kitsch?
Willem Bouwmeester, Harald Tusberg and Thomas Hauerslev. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
S/S Christian Radich "played" the ship in "Windjammer".
Seeing pictures Willem had brought along, brought back vivid memories of the
filming of "Windjammer" and of 11 days in New York in June
Years earlier Harald had contacted Willem about the possibilities of showing
the original 3-strip version of "Windjammer" in the
Colosseum cinema in Oslo. "Windjammer" is by all means a Norwegian
film and it is known by every man in Norway and many 3-strip enthusiasts in
the world. The showing should coincide with the 25th anniversary of Friends
of S/S Christian Radich the 5 November 1996. We discussed the idea for an
hour and agreed to do some research. The 3-strip projectors could be found
in Sweden, a faded print in Holland and possibly a new sound master from
Hollywood. The original soundtracks are stored in the Bell & Howell
building [in LA]. The original Norwegian cinema, The Colosseum in Oslo, is still
there and could be converted to 3-strip Cinemiracle for a short season.
Cadets Bouwmeester and Hauerslev. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
After our meeting with Harald we went to see the ship itself. The S/S
Christian Radich is still in active duty and is an important part of the Norwegian
school of cadets. The ship is stationed in Oslo by Acke Brygge. We were
invited onboard by Mr Steiner Strøm. I had brought the soundtrack along and
Steiner found a tape recoder to play it. There we were. On board the S/S
Christian Radich, star of "Windjammer" drinking beer and
listening to the original soundtrack by Morton Gould (perhaps his finest achievement).
We were taken for a tour around the ship. It was amazing to see how confined
the space was. Considering the size of the Cinemiracle camera it is quite
amazing they ever filmed as much as a single foot of film on that ship. The
camera were colossal and very unmovable.
Hauerslev, Bouwmeester, Louis de Rochemont and Alf Bjerke. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
The same evening was our big night. The meeting with Mr Louis de Rochemont
III. What kind of man was he? I had no idea. I had never met a veteran movie
director before. I was very excited.
Willem and I were picked up by Mr Alf Bjerke who drove us 25 kilometers
south of Oslo to the home of de Rochemont III. We went to a very good
restaurant (The Villa Sandviken) were the four of us had dinner. Louis
turned out to be an extremely nice and polite man. He had a good sense of
humor too. He moved to Norway in 1979 after a long life in the States. He is
now married to a Norwegian woman, Turi.
Willem had a long list of Cinemiracle questions which Louis did his best to
answer. During our lovely meal (whiskey stakes and red wine) Louis memory
slowly revealed a lifelong interest in the movies. When he saw Willems
pictures he remembered more and more of the past. It was extremely
interesting to hear about the filming of "Windjammer" and "Cinerama
Holiday" by the man who responsible for them. So many stories and
anecdotes. We were all ears that evening. It was incredibly exciting as if
we were there on the set nearly 40 years earlier.
I had brought some pictures along from two Todd-AO shorts. The credits from
those films are limited to the point of non-existent. My hope was to put
some information on paper about "The Miracle of Todd-AO" and
"The March of Todd-AO". Loius de Rochemont II (Big Louis among
friends) produced both Todd-AO shorts for the Todd-AO Company. Louis was in
charge of both films both as director and assistant to the director. That
evening recovered more information about the Todd-AO shorts than anyone can
find in any reference book anywhere. Before we departed 4 hours later we
took a few photographs in the kitchen. The only place in the restaurant with
the World in 80 Days" on the curved screen at the magnificent Colosseum in
Oslo. Image by Thomas Hauerslev.
The next day, Saturday, our friendly host, Mr Torkel Sætervadet and his
co-Bauer U2-collector Jan E Olsen had arranged for us to see some 70mm film
at the vast Colosseum screen. The first film was the 22 min 70mm short "Svalbard
- Arctic Seasons" produced, directed and photographed by Mr Hans
Kristian Bukholm from Bergen, Norway. The main attraction was a Todd-AO 30
frames-per-second version of "Around the World in 80 Days".
An experience I eagerly had awaited. The 70mm print was nearly untouched but
slightly faded. There we were, sitting in a 1200 seater cinema with a 22,35
*) meter curved screen watching Todd-AO. Watching is a bad word. We
experienced Todd-AO as it was meant to be seen at thirty frames per second.
After a very hectic weekend Willem and I went on to our normal lives (if
such a word exists). On behalf of Willem, I would like to thank Alf, Harald,
Jan, Louis and Torkell for a pleasant and highly interesting week-end.
*) The screen is 22,35 metres along the curve. It is 20,2 metres across, and
3,5 metres deep. That size makes it the largset screen in Northern Europe.
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