The Big Trail: 70mm film from 1930 at

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Old July 6th, 2008, 07:57 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Mays Landing, NJ
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The Big Trail: 70mm film from 1930

Just watched this film last night and was astounded to learn that Fox was shooting 70mm widescreen movies as early as 1929 in a process they called "Grandeur":

The black and white cinematography in this film is spectacular; you will see widescreen composition here which you probably thought didn't develop until 30 years later. Unfortunately, the sound recording was a long way behind the photography - it's actually an early "talkie" picture with everything recorded on location. There's also a lot of melodramatic, acting (and some good performances too), but that makes it kind of fun.

Since hardly any theatres were equipped with 70mm projectors they had to shoot a 35mm version concurrently. And as they wanted to release it in other countries and hadn't developed a system of dubbing audio yet, they also shot the scenes repeatedly with different foreign actors. Quite an epic achievement and the statistics are also impressive - more than 20,000 extras, 700 Indians, 90 principals, a crew of 200. It's also John Wayne's first starring role.

And here's an article by Arthur Edeson from the September 1930 American Cinematographer on the challenges and rewards of shooting a widscreen movie!

From my experience with 70 millimeter cinematography on "The Big Trail," I can confidently say that the wider film is not only the coming medium for such great pictures, but that it will undoubtedly become the favored one for all types of picture. It marks a definite advance in motion picture technique, and from it will undoubtedly be evolved the truly stereoscopic picture of the future, toward which so many people have long been striving.
Some truly prophetic words from 1930. Unfortunately economic conditions killed off Grandeur prematurely; otherwise we might have had a widescreen standard 25 years earlier. Here are a few other good links:

Check this one out if you get a chance, it's a remarkable film.
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