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"Windjammer" in Hamburg

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Gerhard Witte, BerlinDate: 15.05.2011
Gerhard Witte and Dave Strohmaier. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

“Windjammer: The Voyage of Christian Radich” (USA 1958) I saw the film the first time as a little boy at the beginning of the 1960s at the Tonhallen-Cinema in Düsseldorf on a huge deep curved screen with a size of around 24 x 10 meters. That was an unforgettable event to me and awoke my interest in widescreen cinema and film-music. I kept the film-song “Kari waits for me” and the wonderful score of Morton Gould in my mind until today. In that year my parents gave me a Philips EP record with some extracts of the score as a birthday present. The record player ran the whole day long and I assume that my parents soon regretted to give me the EP.

Many years later, on 11 March 2006, I had the pleasure to enjoy an original 3 strip Cinemiracle-projection with 7-Channel-Magnetic-Surround-Sound of this wonderful voyage again at the Bradford Widescreen Festival, even in a German language spoken version but of course, after such a long time, in a faded look.

And now, more than 50 years after the film's premiere, at the revered Savoy-, now Metropolis-cinema in Hamburg a dream has come true: “Windjammer” remastered in full colours again on the big curved screen, not a triptychon-projection, but now fully digital with corrected colours on all three panels. The original Cinemiracle 7-Channel Magnetic-Sound of the film has been changed into a digital 5.1 mix.

["...The deck also puts out 2 channel stereo that is encoded for dolby pro logic -2 and many places use that for this type of thing. 5.1 mix is on the digital files but for some reason few places can do it thru decks SDI or HDMI outputs. The Pro logic sound is almost identical to the 5.1 when we did comparisons at Chace sound after the 5.1 mix.". Randy Gitsch].
More in 70mm reading:

"Windjammer" in Hamburg

"Windjammer" Triumphant Return to Hamburg

More Savoy Adverts Supplement to the story of Hamburg's First Todd-AO Theatre

"Windjammer" in Cinemiracle

Internet link:

Cadet #34, a surprise guest in Hamburg is taking a bow. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

I am so happy, that the old Savoy-, now Metropolis-cinema still exists today. Worldwide most of the large Cinerama/Todd-AO roadshow-houses were demolished or gutted. I hope that the Metropolis/Savoy has a future. It should be listed as a historic monument since it is the first purpose built Todd-AO cinema in Europe opened on 14 March 1957. The Hamburgers can be proud of it.

The cinema still gives me goose-pimples when I am entering it and I feel myself thrown back to my youth when I saw all the great 70mm (Todd-AO) films there. Now I sail the high seas again accompanied by round about 250 to 350 Christian Radich enthusiasts. I note that most of us are not the youngest and a lot of people speak English. Even the former Windjammer film cadet, Jan Halvorsen, appears as a surprise to all cineastes.
David Strohmaier and Randy Gitsch giving the lecture of the remastered version of "Windjammer". Image by Thomas Hauerslev

Before showing the film "Windjammer" there were given one longer and two shorter lectures. First David Strohmaier and Randy Gitsch, extra flown in from Los Angeles, reported about the restauration of the film. This interesting presentation took round about 1/2 hour time. On the occasion of Hamburg harbour's 822th birthday the Kinemathek Hamburg presents a film series with films from Norway titled "Norway - Ships and People" in the time of 5-24 May 2011. The Norwegian consul general, Mr. Morten Paulsen, gave an introductory speech. And last not least the business manager of the cinema Martin Aust reported among others about the future of the Metropolis/Savoy-cinema, to save it - but until now no clear decision is taken.

Over the time the cinema got a new screen and I assume it has the same dimension as it had in former Savoy times, around 20 x 8.5 meters. I confess that the impression seeing “Windjammer” in this new digital version, in comparison to the former original Cinemiracle-Triptychon-Projection I had seen, wasn´t quite so overwhelming. The cinema-screen was not filled out by the film in its full wideness and the picture could be only a little bit sharper. The colors were a pleasure. I was astonished that the SmileBox version of the film worked that well and increased the curvature of the screen optically. The dividing lines of the old Triptychon-Projection were weak, but still visible, which in my mind's eye is not bad and is Cinemiracle nostalgia.
Testing "Windjammer" in SmileBox on the curved Metropolis screen. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

“Windjammer” and a lot of Cinerama-films were shown on screens with different curvatures in many cinemas around the world. Sometimes, the curvature was so deep, that the moviegoer could see the film on the screen covering a field of vision of 146 degrees in its width - this closely approximates to the field of human vision. For example, the Pictureville-cinema in Bradford (England) still has such a deep curved (louvered) screen. At the Metropolis/Savoy-cinema, without SmileBox effect, the field of vision should be about 120 degrees.

The digital 5.1 sound still was impressive, above all, when the sea became stormy. How wonderful it was, seeing the film in its full length, here with introductory cinema-gong, with Overture, Entracte and Play-out music. I think it will be a great pleasure to see the film later on DVD or Blu-ray and it is important, that thanks to the restaurators, that this nearly lost cinematographic work will be available to the public around the world.

After the show, in the cinema's foyer a little buffet was given with wine and salmon-appetizers and the cineastes had the opportunity to talk to each other about their varied experiences.

The event was great and I would like to express my thanks to all the speakers and to Thomas Hauerslev for the European distribution of the film. To David Strohmaier and Randy Gitsch extra-thanks for the restauration of the film and also thanks to the cinema management for the invitation to this great evening experience at their beautiful Metropolis cinema.
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Updated 04-05-22