"Windjammer," which premiered at the Villa Theatre Thursday evening, is more than a movie. It's a physical experience.
Riding the hyrda-headed Cinemiracle camera, you plunge headlong down the cobblestone lane of a Madelran mountainside in a basket sled, cling precariously to the tail end of a Philadelphia fire engine racing through narrow streets to a blaze, leap from a window to land limp in a fire net, sit on the dock of a submarine as it dives beneath the surface, and battle a storm at sea.
These are the nerve-knotting high points of the film which, although interesting as a travelogue, is secondary to the process itself. Scenes which in 35mm would be commonplace and even dull, become impressive projected on the huge, curved screen, growing in breadth, depth and excitement.
The film chronicles the trip of the Christian Radich with its crew of young Norwegian cadets on a training voyage from Osio to Madeira, Cuaracao, Trinidad, New York, Portsmouth, and home. Aboard the square rigger, the cadets learn the necessity of teamwork, acceptance of discipline, the ability to make right decisions instantly, and conquer the fear of heights as they clamber into the rigging.
It's entertaining for eye and ear, with native music and dancing livening the shore leaves - the primitive potion of Madeira music, pulsating beat of Calypso in Port of Spain, Trinidad; New Orleans jazz, and a tour of Norway's picturesque terrain in the strains of the Grieg Piano Concerto.
The tour of the "Windjammer" gave Cinemiracle a good chance to flex its muscles and see what it could do, offering a variety of activities and subjects for the triple camera. Next it should be fed on solid story and star material, combining content and projection impact.
Ceremonies preceding Thursday nights CARE benefit premiere were emceed by actor Tony Randall.
They included appearances by Lauritz Melchoir the Danish giant of opera; Miss Norway, Miss Sweden, and Miss Denmark, contestants in the Miss Universe contest; Maurice Warshaw, local supermarket chain owner who arranged the benefit for CARE relief work in Chile; Abram Becker, assistant director who will direct Chile relief; and Samuel P. Norton, president of Cinemiracle.