661 Marketa Lazarová

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swo17
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661 Marketa Lazarová

#1 Post by swo17 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:13 pm

Marketa Lazarová

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In its home country, František Vlácil’s Marketa Lazarová has been hailed as the greatest Czech film ever made; for many U.S. viewers, it will be a revelation. Based on a novel by Vladislav Vancura, this stirring and poetic depiction of a feud between two rival medieval clans is a fierce, epic, and meticulously designed evocation of the clashes between Christianity and paganism, humankind and nature, love and violence. Vlácil’s approach was to re-create the textures and mentalities of a long-ago way of life, rather than to make a conventional historical drama, and the result is dazzling. With its inventive widescreen cinematography, editing, and sound design, Marketa Lazarová is an experimental action film.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New, restored 4K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• New interviews with actors Magda Vášáryová, Ivan Palúch, and Vlastimil Harapes and costume designer Theodor Pištěk
• New interviews with film historian Peter Hames and journalist and film critic Antonín Liehm
In the Web of Time, a short documentary from 1989 by cinematographer František Uldrich, in which director František Vláčil discusses his filmmaking process
• Interview with Universal Production Partners technical director Ivo Marák about the film's restoration
• Gallery of storyboards by Vláčil
• Trailer
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film scholar Tom Gunning and translator Alex Zucker and a 1969 interview with Vláčil
Last edited by swo17 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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MichaelB
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#2 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:15 pm

I've avoided Blu-ray double-dips so far, but I think I might have to make an exception for this!

That said, I'm assuming it will be exactly the same transfer as the Czech BD (it's hard to see why Criterion would create a new one when there's a perfectly good 4K master available off the shelf), so it depends on how substantial the extras are.

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warren oates
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#3 Post by warren oates » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:27 pm

This is an essential film and it's going to look stunning in HD. If you haven't seen it yet, don't hesitate to blind buy. It's as good as anything you've ever heard of by all the greatest masters of world cinema. No film lover I've ever shared this with has failed to come away impressed. A couple have told me they think it's an even better film about the Middle Ages than Andrei Rublev.

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Tommaso
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#4 Post by Tommaso » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:30 pm

Looks like a substantial package with all these new interviews, and as I wasn't entirely happy with the Second Run disc (some compression artefacts), I think I might double-dip even on SD only. The film is a complete masterpiece.

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swo17
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#5 Post by swo17 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:32 pm

I just watched the Czech BD over the weekend, and the transfer was every bit as good as the film. Which is to say, life-alteringly so. This will be making some year-end lists.

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Black Hat
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#6 Post by Black Hat » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:33 pm

Oh wow this is exciting, was thrilled the board introduced me to this masterpiece last year. Have the Second Run edition and was going to ask my friend who's about to go to Prague to bring me back the BD but no more! Not to complain but the extras seem a bit thin for a film of this prestige no? Thought it would be deserving of a commentary but I'm sure the interview with Mr. Hames will be good and hopefully extensive.

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zedz
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#7 Post by zedz » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:48 pm

Outside of the Czech Republic, the prestige of the film is pretty far underground, so far (ten years ago, how many of us even knew it existed?), so Criterion wouldn't have had much ready-made material to licence, and few up-to-scratch experts to call upon. But in that regard they couldn't have done better than Hames.

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Black Hat
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#8 Post by Black Hat » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:56 pm

Ah impression I had was that Czech films although not as widely known as French, Italian & Japanese cinema were at least known among cinephiles with Marketa being the preeminent film and thus influencing Criterion overstuffing the release. I'm reminded to go order the Hames books from Columbia University Press before their sale is over.

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knives
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#9 Post by knives » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:59 pm

I think it's a case where native perception of a film and western perception are way different despite a loyal cult's attempts to change that. I imagine Forman's films along with a small handful of others are the only 'big' titles from a US perspective.

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MichaelB
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#10 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:03 pm

zedz wrote:Outside of the Czech Republic, the prestige of the film is pretty far underground, so far (ten years ago, how many of us even knew it existed?), so Criterion wouldn't have had much ready-made material to licence, and few up-to-scratch experts to call upon. But in that regard they couldn't have done better than Hames.
Absolutely - Hames is by far the film's most dogged advocate in the English-speaking world. He first saw it in 1973, decades before virtually everyone else outside its native country. And Antonín Liehm was probably the only viable source of English-language info before the first edition of Hames' Czech New Wave book. They're the obvious people to call upon, and I can't fault their choice.

Incidentally, I just looked up Marketa's ranking in last year's Sight & Sound poll, and it came in at no. 154, a tie with Brief Encounter, Chimes at Midnight, Cries and Whispers, Distant Voices Still Lives, The Gold Rush, Hidden, In a Lonely Place, Letter from an Unknown Woman, My Neighbour Totoro, Once Upon a Time in America, Only Angels Have Wings, The Shining, Solaris and Vampyr. Which isn't bad going at all for a film that, as you correctly say, was pretty much totally unknown internationally even by name at the time of the 2002 poll.
knives wrote:I think it's a case where native perception of a film and western perception are way different despite a loyal cult's attempts to change that. I imagine Forman's films along with a small handful of others are the only 'big' titles from a US perspective.
I suspect this is largely because it's barely been seen in the West. Second Run's DVD was the only English-friendly release anywhere in the world for many years, and how many people would go to the trouble of importing a Czech BD? Crucially, as far as I'm aware, the film has never had a commercial release in the US in any medium until now, so for it to make its debut on a Criterion Blu-ray is a huge deal that in itself will ensure that it gets noticed in a way that it wouldn't have done had it crept onto the market on a smaller label.

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vsski
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#11 Post by vsski » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:19 pm

This was one of the films highest on my to-see list and I originally was going to Prague this year and would have picked up the BD while I'm there, but I can save myself the trouble now (although it's always worth going to Prague for no other reason than being there and enjoying the city).

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Black Hat
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#12 Post by Black Hat » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:41 pm

MichaelB wrote:Incidentally, I just looked up Marketa's ranking in last year's Sight & Sound poll, and it came in at no. 154, a tie with Brief Encounter, Chimes at Midnight, Cries and Whispers, Distant Voices Still Lives, The Gold Rush, Hidden, In a Lonely Place, Letter from an Unknown Woman, My Neighbour Totoro, Once Upon a Time in America, Only Angels Have Wings, The Shining, Solaris and Vampyr. Which isn't bad going at all for a film that, as you correctly say, was pretty much totally unknown internationally even by name at the time of the 2002 poll.
I did the same when the list came out and was surprised how low it was. Pretty clear to me now that I mistakenly thought all the incredible knowledge many of you dropped when I asked about Czech films wasn't representative of the film critic community at large.

rrenault
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#13 Post by rrenault » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:43 pm

warren oates wrote:This is an essential film and it's going to look stunning in HD. If you haven't seen it yet, don't hesitate to blind buy. It's as good as anything you've ever heard of by all the greatest masters of world cinema. No film lover I've ever shared this with has failed to come away impressed. A couple have told me they think it's an even better film about the Middle Ages than Andrei Rublev.
Nice to welcome a new member to the "Janus canon", and I don't mean that in a bad sense. It's about time.

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Gregory
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#14 Post by Gregory » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:58 pm

In other great Marketa Lazarová news, the source novel is going to be available in English for the first time.

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Minkin
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#15 Post by Minkin » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:11 pm

Black Hat wrote: Not to complain but the extras seem a bit thin for a film of this prestige no? Thought it would be deserving of a commentary but I'm sure the interview with Mr. Hames will be good and hopefully extensive.
I would hold off complaints until we find out what the "More!" is going to be. If previous "Mores!" are any indication, it will either be another film or a feature-length documentary (or something else rather exciting).

If an additional film is the case, which Vlácil film would make for the best companion to Marketa?

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SpiderBaby
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#16 Post by SpiderBaby » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:25 pm

Minkin wrote:If an additional film is the case, which Vlácil film would make for the best companion to Marketa?
It would be hard for me to see Adelheid, Valley of the Bees, or The White Dove as an extra. On top of that, if they had one of those, they should probably have them all since they are all OOP with the Facets releases.

Has The Devil's Trap seen a US release?

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jbeall
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#17 Post by jbeall » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:23 pm

I can't really see any of Vlácil's other feature-length films serving as an extra on the Marketa release. Perhaps Tomáš Hejtmánek's Sentiment?

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zedz
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#18 Post by zedz » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:48 pm

Sentiment is an obvious candidate, but I can't say I was particularly impressed by it, and it didn't seem to shed much light on Marketa Lazarova specifically.

There's material on Vlacil and the film scattered amongst the Golden Sixties docs, but not, as I recall, all that much. (Whereas some other absent creators such as Stefan Uher and Ester Krumbachova are such powerful influences that you could probably construct feature length documentaries out of the copious mentions and clips they receive.)

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jbeall
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#19 Post by jbeall » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:13 pm

I wasn't too impressed by it, either, and I agree that it wouldn't really add anything to Criterion's release. The problem seems to be that there's not a ton of material out there, as you note. But I think it would do a disservice to Vlacil's other features to relegate them to bonus material.

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swo17
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#20 Post by swo17 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:24 pm

Well, if this were 5 years ago, the novel perhaps might have made it as a supplement...

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MichaelB
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#21 Post by MichaelB » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:10 am

zedz wrote:There's material on Vlacil and the film scattered amongst the Golden Sixties docs, but not, as I recall, all that much. (Whereas some other absent creators such as Stefan Uher and Ester Krumbachova are such powerful influences that you could probably construct feature length documentaries out of the copious mentions and clips they receive.)
Uher and Krumbachová were massive influences on the New Wave filmmakers, but Vláčil wasn't to anything like the same extent - I suspect one of the reasons why Marketa was so neglected for so long is that it wasn't generally seen as a New Wave title, and it sounds quite dull on paper - especially given that the Czechs have made innumerable medieval/period costume dramas, many of which genuinely do have very few points of interest.

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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#22 Post by rrenault » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:46 am

SpiderBaby wrote:
Minkin wrote:If an additional film is the case, which Vlácil film would make for the best companion to Marketa?
It would be hard for me to see Adelheid, Valley of the Bees, or The White Dove as an extra. On top of that, if they had one of those, they should probably have them all since they are all OOP with the Facets releases.

Has The Devil's Trap seen a US release?

Are you sure about that? Since when are they OOP?

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MichaelB
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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#23 Post by MichaelB » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:08 am

rrenault wrote:Are you sure about that? Since when are they OOP?
A representative of The Film Office, the Czech sales agency handling the various 1960s New Wave titles, confirmed in these very forums that at present Criterion is the only US label with the distribution rights to these films.

And to support this, the Facets discs are currently going for silly money at Amazon - ludicrous money, in fact, as for the $199 that one deluded optimist is asking for Adelheid you could probably import the Second Run DVD (complete with superior transfer and properly synchronised subtitles) and pay for a multi-region machine to play it on!

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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#24 Post by L.A. » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:46 am

MichaelB wrote:And to support this, the Facets discs are currently going for silly money at Amazon - ludicrous money, in fact, as for the $199 that one deluded optimist is asking for Adelheid you could probably import the Second Run DVD (complete with superior transfer and properly synchronised subtitles) and pay for a multi-region machine to play it on!
:shock:

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Re: 661 Marketa Lazarová

#25 Post by MichaelB » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:14 am

I'm playing the Czech BD right now, and to be honest if someone had told me that I was watching a sneak preview of the Criterion I'd have no problem believing them - it's comfortably up to the standard set by, say, the Criterion transfer of Letter Never Sent. And assuming that Criterion will be working from the same 4K master, there would seem to be little for them to do at their end.

And one of the most exciting things about this release is that it will finally give a reasonably high Stateside profile to one of the greatest director-composer partnerships in all cinema history - right up there with Eisenstein-Prokofiev, Hitchcock-Herrmann, Fellini-Rota and Leone-Morricone. What Zdeněk Liška does with the music is as astonishing to me watching the film for the umpteenth time as it was first time round - his blend of a cappella choral singing, toneless chanting, weird Harry Partch-style home-made percussion and discreet electronics is like nothing else ever attempted in a film score, and in many ways the film's lack of influence has helped ensure that it remains a dazzling one-off.

(There's a great example here, despite the tinny audio compression.)

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