Cinerama’s ‘Search For Paradise’ (Blu-ray Review)

Cinerama's Search For ParadiseJoin Lowell Thomas and follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo in this new, digital restoration of Search for Paradise, the fourth of the original, 3-panel Cinerama travelogues. Released in 1957, the motion picture takes you to the “Roof of the World,” the Himalayas and Karakoram mountains of Central Asia, the highest region on Earth. You’ll become part of the adventure as explorer Lowell Thomas searches for paradise in ancient cities, wild river rapids, and the lush gardens of mountaintops. Your first stop is the Forbidden Kingdom of Hunza, a hidden valley bordered by China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, home to a legendary warrior tribe. Next, you’ll challenge the rapids of the Mighty Indus River, fed from a fantastic galaxy of monumental glaciers draining from some of the greatest heights known to man. From there, find respite in the romantic Shalimar Gardens in the Vale of Kashmir, then fly to Katmandu for the coronation ceremony of King Mahendra of Nepal. The adventure concludes with a trip to a U.S. Air Force base, where Thunderbird jet planes cut across the sapphire blue sky overhead at supersonic speed. Flicker Alley and Cinerama, Inc. are proud to present Search for Paradise in the Smilebox® Curved Screen Simulation. Unseen theatrically since the early 1970s and never before issued on home video, Search for Paradise has been digitally remastered from original camera negatives. The film captures the imagination and asks what your dream paradise would be: beauty, adventure or peace. 

Cinerama's Search for Paradise


Wow, so I’m back with my second review for Flicker Alley’s Cinerama Blu-rays and here is the one for Search for Paradise, which was released a year or so after Seven Wonders of the World. Lowell Thomas is back again to lead the charge into some uncharted territory. This time out he and his crew are in search of “Shangri-La” aka “Heaven on Earth.” Yes, this is still dated material from the 1950’s, so the definition of heaven on earth can be a little bit subjective.

Thomas along with solo director Otto Lang journey off to Hunza, a hidden valley bordered by Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. From there it’s off to see and sail through the Indus River before heading out to Kashmir and then to Katmandu for a crowning ceremony. The show feature ends with the team back on U.S. soil at an air force base as they capture footage of high-speed super sonic planes breaking the sound barrier. It’s a great way to end the show, in my opinion.

As you may have noticed I knocked down a half-star due to Search for Paradise being a bit too scripted in parts. I have absolutely no problem with Lowell Thomas and his narration or presentation but am bothered by the stilted dialogue delivery by the crew in tow. I knew it would be bland from watching the opening intro as Thomas receives his wire from the President of the United states saying that he will be part of an convoy that will be witness to the new King in Katmandu, because then the nosy secretary makes a gee-golly remark about going to these places herself. Before you know it it’s a full crew.

Sure, it’s a small nitpick and what was I expecting right? Still, It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t distract. Search for Paradise keeps the travelogue format in tact and utilizes the Cinerama format to full effects. There are some extraordinary shots in this program that will literally cut your eyes by how amazing they look. They look like paintings. Since this was still the 1950’s please keep in mind that attitudes and sensitivities were a little guarded. They refer to groups and such a little too bluntly.

Some say that Cinerama is IMAX before there was an IMAX and I can agree with that. These Cinerama pictures were always an event. You’d get dressed in your spiffy duds and make it a night on the town while taking a cinematic adventure to parts unknown on this gigantic movie screen. It’s very cool and even on a giant HD monitor the cinematography is down right flawless. I will have to track down the previous Cinerama productions that I have missed, because they’re actually pretty addictive.


Cinerama's Search for Paradise


Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 & 2.59:1

Clarity/Detail: Once again the visual clarity and detail on this Cinerama is incredible! I also noticed that the joining lines were not as visible as they were on Seven Wonders of the World. Whatever the case for Search for Paradise may be definitely doesn’t disappoint.  

Depth:  Depth levels are insane and there really aren’t any words to describe the visual splendor that would do Search for Paradise justice. You have to see it to believe it.

Black Levels: Black levels, what few there are, look as good as they can. Compression and crush don’t interfere at all.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is crisp and clean as the “painting in motion” moves through the screen. Pixilation, banding, etc., were not an issue whatsoever.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones looked nice and natural, even with a little bit of sun on some of our guides back.

Noise/Artifacts: Dirt, noise, and artifacts are of minor concern and whatever the technicians did to get rid of all of the anomalies were a good thing. I don’t think the image has looked this good since 1957!


Cinerama's Search for Paradise



Audio Format(s): English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby 2.0

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: The misprint on the back of the box states that this program is presented in 7.1 DTS-lossles but that is incorrect. The original 7-track master has been remastered for Dolby Digital 5.1 playback. Honestly, it’s fine. I don’t see what more you can get out of a travelogue in lossless then in regular 5.1. It still sounds great.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is there for the ride but explodes during the scenes of the sound barrier being broken towards the end. Holy Toledo!

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels are used for ambience – there really isn’t anything going on back there. Music travels the rear-scape, as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is front and center and it sounds clear as it can. In fact it’s so clear you can hear how stilted some of the actors readings are.


Cinerama's Search for Paradise


Cinerama’s Search for Paradise on Blu-ray is fully loaded! There are many behind-the-scenes featurette along with restoration demos, and a very cool, worth the price of admission alone, short Cinerama feature called: In the Picture. It may be one of the last films shot in Cinerama and on that alone this supplemental package section gets a perfect 5-star. This is a 3-disc (1 Blu-ray, 2 DVDs) set, and it’s region free.

  • In The Picture (HD) – A short film shot in the Cinerama format. The acting and dialogue are horrendous, but was all shot in Los Angeles and Hollywood, so it gets a pass. There are many breath takings shots. This is style over substance in every sense of the word and may be just be one of the last Cinerama productions of our time.
  • The Last Days of Cinerama (HD) – This is a companion piece to In the Picture and it’s fine. There’s a brief history of the format and then there’s the behind-the-scenes stuff as the cast and crew shoot in Cinerama. Those cameras are super loud and cumbersome.
  • Search For Paradise Breakdown Reel (SD) – They used to have a contingency plan for Cinerama equipment breakdowns back in the day and they created a couple of 15-minute “breakdown reels” that would play while the technicians fixed the projectors. This one has Lowell Thomas interviewing composer Dimitri Tiomkin.
  • Behind-The-Scenes-Footage – (SD) This is some behind-the-scenes footage of the Cinerama crew setting up the Air Force base shoot. 16mm Nepal footage is also included.
  • Director Interview (SD)  – Director Otto Lang recounts the trial and tribulations that came with getting these great shots through Cinerama. In fact – it was such a treacherous shoot, to hear Lang describe how they lost a crew member is quite heartbreaking and incredible at the same time yet the show had to go on.
  • Restoration Demonstration (HD) – David Strohmaier demonstrates what went into restoring Search for Paradise for Blu-ray and DVD. Some of the footage and narration was previously used in Seven Wonders of the World but this one focuses on Search for Paradise. 
  • David Cole’s Search For Paradise (HD) – This is a PowerPoint presentation taking a look at the making of Search for Paradise.
  • Search For Paradise Trailers (HD & SD) – These are trailers for Search for Paradise. One is a “new movie” trailer and the other one is a black and white announcement trailer.
  • Publicity and Behind-the-Scenes Slideshow (HD) – A still gallery of behind-the-scenes during production.
  • 28 Page Booklet – Here’s another cool looking program reproduction of the programs that used to be handed out during the shows back in 1957. The details are amazing.



Cinerama's Search for Paradise


Cinerama’s Search for Paradise is not a masterpiece interns of filmmaking but its presentation cannot be denied. It’s a great part of film and filmmaking history and I am glad Flicker Alley have come along and preserved this piece of filmmaking for all time. The Blu-ray presentation is above average but the supplements are incredible. In The Picture elevates the supplemental package to reference levels. Yes, I recommend Cinerama’s Search for Paradise. It’s a grand adventure.



Order Cinerama’s Search for Paradise on Blu-ray!

Cinerama's Search For Paradise -


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

Comments are currently closed.