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Cinerama As Perceived By Abel Gance

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Abel Gance. Text provided by Widescreen Academy member Francois Carrin, and translated by Alain DorangeDate: 17.03.2012
The original famous letter from Abel Gance, written for the French souvenir program of "Windjammer", in February 1962. Remember that the French title was "La Grande Rencontre" ("The Great Encounter"). Caption by François Carrin

Click on the image to see enlargement.

In the morning of July 7th 1924, while working at the edits of my first "Napoleon Bonarparte", I wrote the exciting scripts of the two storms: the one for the Convention and the one for the Army of Italy and I suddenly felt uncomfortable, like imprisoned by the narrow frame of the movie screen. My pen stopped and out of the blue an idea came into my mind. Why not make the frames of the screen explode? And then I wrote what we can still read today in my script.

"At the very moment, when the Army of Italy is ready to leave, 2 curtains open suddenly at the right and the left of the center screen and reveal 2 additional screens with a sense of continuity. And, like the 3 valves of a lock open simultaneously, the flow will engulf the spectator, this flow being the most powerful in Human power ever seen in History.

This was 37 years ago

Luckily, a remarkable man sharp and visionary, was at the premiere of my movie at the Paris Opera: Nicolas Reisini. He understood this new technology would one day or the other revolutionize the movie industry. But at this point on time there was nothing he could have done to help me. And this is only after many years of battles he managed to be on top of CINERAMA INC. He decided to bring me back its birth certificate in order to make me the father of this invention which has been stolen from me in its concept.

What do I think now about Cinerama?

I think there is far more distance between conventional Cinema and Cinerama than you have between a propeller plane and a jet and we are witnessing this latest which will supersede the previous one with a non reversible effect.

I will try to play a useful tool in this evolution with the SUPER CINERAMA. Without a doubt, by bringing new ideas, we will achieve to fulfil my dream..... Novalis said: "A picture is a prayer, such Spirit has been called, such Spirit appears!"

So I call the Spirit towards CINERAMA
More in 70mm reading:

Le Cinerama Vu Par Abel Gance

Kevin Brownlow Interview - Part 1
Projecting “Napoleon” – une pièce de resistance
"Windjammer" in Cinemiracle's Cinerama page
Francois Carrin
Empire - Cinerama - Paris

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Updated 07-01-21