Alice

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MichaelB
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Alice

#1 Post by MichaelB » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:02 am

The BFI's upcoming Dual Format release of Jan Švankmajer's Alice was announced by the film's executive producer Keith Griffiths at last night's London Film Festival screening of Švankmajer's Surviving Life.

At this stage, I can confirm that it will have the original Czech soundtrack, which has never previously been released in Britain (or the US, or indeed most other places) alongside the familiar English dub. The transfer will be sourced from a brand new HD telecine from the original 35mm interpositive, which was examined along with the original camera negative and judged the highest quality element available for transfer. The initial transfer was carried out in Prague under the supervision of both the BFI's James White and Švankmajer's long-term producer Jaromír Kallista, with additional picture grading and picture and sound restoration being carried out in London as we speak. The Czech audio came from the original mag tracks, and the English dub from Channel 4's materials.

It's still in the very early stages of development, so it won't be out until some time next year - and while I've certainly recommended various extras to the production team, I'd better not mention them here as there's no guarantee that they'll be available/affordable. But as soon as I have any more concrete info, I'll let you know.

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RossyG
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#2 Post by RossyG » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:49 am

Brilliant. I love this film. Children need to see stuff like this rather than slick, cynically marketed Hollywood stuff. Kids need a bit of "weirding out" when they're young. The beady-eyed White Rabbit eating his own stuffing should do that quite nicely. :)

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#3 Post by MichaelB » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:54 am

RossyG wrote:Children need to see stuff like this rather than slick, cynically marketed Hollywood stuff. Kids need a bit of "weirding out" when they're young.
This is the overwhelming argument for retaining the English dub!

Keith more or less publicly apologised for its technical shortcomings last night (he supervised it originally), but as with MoC's Fantastic Planet I think there's a very strong case for keeping the English track if the film's likely to be shown to kids. And I'm definitely trying out both films out on mine.

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Stephen
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#4 Post by Stephen » Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:02 am

MichaelB wrote:
RossyG wrote:Children need to see stuff like this rather than slick, cynically marketed Hollywood stuff. Kids need a bit of "weirding out" when they're young.
This is the overwhelming argument for retaining the English dub!.
I agree and if BFI ever looked into releasing Svankmajer's masterpiece 'Faust', I'd recommend the fabulous english language audio performance from Andrew Sachs be retained for equally admirable reasons.

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#5 Post by MichaelB » Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:18 am

Stephen wrote:I agree and if BFI ever looked into releasing Svankmajer's masterpiece 'Faust', I'd recommend the fabulous english language audio performance from Andrew Sachs be retained for equally admirable reasons.
Absolutely no question. In the case of Alice, the Czech dub is clearly to be preferred because of the lip-sync, but there's really nothing to choose between the English and Czech versions of Faust on a technical level, and I'd argue that unless you actually understand spoken Czech there's no good reason for not opting for the English version. (Not least because, as the uncharacteristically talky Surviving Life demonstrated last night, Švankmajer's typically complex, layered images and distracting onscreen subtitles really don't mix that well!)

I'd also argue that Sachs' virtuoso vocal performance is superior to Petr Čepek's equivalent (though, to be fair, Čepek was terminally ill, and I obviously have a better ear for English nuance), and there are lots of direct quotations from Christopher Marlowe's play which wouldn't come across in the Czech translation.

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Murdoch
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#6 Post by Murdoch » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:27 pm

I was about to take the plunge on one of the English-dubbed releases, thankfully this news came when it did. Thus far this is my favorite Svankmajer - with a close second being his delightfully manic Jabberwocky - since Carroll seems a perfect fit for Svankmajer's sensibilities, he has a great ability to take something that could be creepy - the animated skulls in this for instance - and make it into something rather playful.

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zedz
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#7 Post by zedz » Tue Oct 26, 2010 6:31 pm

Fantastic news. This is not only one of the all-time great animated films but one of the all-time great child's-eye-view films. It really captures the way children's play transmogrifies the everyday objects that kids co-opt. The fact that it also works so well as an adaptation of Carroll - one which captures the spirit and skewed logic of the book - is the icing on the cake.

I would, of course, love to see some of the contemporaneous shorts, such as Down to the Cellar and Darkness, Light, Darkness, in HD, but I trust Michael's suggestions will be even more mouthwatering and comprehensive. Can't wait.

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Feego
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#8 Post by Feego » Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:47 pm

Amazing! I can't believe I'm only just reading about this release. Svankmajer's Alice is one of my favorite films, and I can't wait to get hold of this. And in the original Czech at last! I'm in heaven. BFI's Complete Svankmajer Shorts set is one of the prizes of my DVD collection, and I'm sure this will be stellar.
MichaelB wrote:but there's really nothing to choose between the English and Czech versions of Faust on a technical level, and I'd argue that unless you actually understand spoken Czech there's no good reason for not opting for the English version. (Not least because, as the uncharacteristically talky Surviving Life demonstrated last night, Švankmajer's typically complex, layered images and distracting onscreen subtitles really don't mix that well!)
I remember feeling this way when watching Svankmajer's The Fall of the House of Usher. That was one time when I felt an English dub might have been preferable, as the constant subtitles distracted from the beautiful and disturbing imagery, and as far as I can tell, the narrator (Čepek, wasn't it?) was simply reciting Poe's poem verbatim.

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#9 Post by MichaelB » Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:20 pm

Feego wrote:I remember feeling this way when watching Svankmajer's The Fall of the House of Usher. That was one time when I felt an English dub might have been preferable, as the constant subtitles distracted from the beautiful and disturbing imagery, and as far as I can tell, the narrator (Čepek, wasn't it?) was simply reciting Poe's poem verbatim.
I agree, and I now switch the subtitles off when watching it - I've seen the film more than enough times to know what he's saying by now. And yes, he is indeed reciting an abridged version of Poe's story, and when I commissioned the subtitles I asked the translator to use the original text whenever possible.

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antnield
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#10 Post by antnield » Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:23 am

15th May release according to Central Books.

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antnield
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#11 Post by antnield » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:14 am

Image

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RossyG
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#12 Post by RossyG » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:28 am

If they get the pic and sound quality right - ie. as good as the materials allow - this'll be the release of the year for me.

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#13 Post by MichaelB » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:30 pm

RossyG wrote:If they get the pic and sound quality right - ie. as good as the materials allow - this'll be the release of the year for me.
I've only seen samples thus far, but the pic and sound quality definitely looked and sounded right to me - and as night and day compared with previous video releases.

I'm pretty sure that all other English-friendly releases of Alice came from an old analogue master of the English-dubbed version - whereas the new BFI one went right back to basics in the form of the original 35mm interpos (apparently in superb condition) and the magnetic sound mix of the Czech version. In other words, they really couldn't have done any better in terms of source materials, and the transfer and digital restoration were supervised by the same people who've done all the other recent BFI Blu-rays.

Apparently the English soundtrack was in slightly rougher shape, but I doubt anyone will be complaining.

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Feego
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#14 Post by Feego » Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:51 pm

Okay, I don't care what else comes out this year, this IS the release of the year for me. Alice on Blu-ray with the original Czech soundtrack? Last year, that was only in my wildest fantasy.

Do we know if it will be region free or region 2?

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#15 Post by MichaelB » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:17 am

I'm delighted to confirm that this is definitely region-free.

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ellipsis7
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#16 Post by ellipsis7 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:06 am

Specs
Alice

A Film by Jan Svankmajer

Czech surrealist Jan vankmajer s Alice (1988) is a creepy and disturbing adaptaion of Lewis Carroll s perennial literary classic, and perhaps the most faithful the original work. Combining a live-action Alice (Kristýna Kohoutová) with a Wonderland filled with threatening stop-motion characters, Svankmajer s deliberately crude style of animation, use of close-ups, and rich design work lend the film a pervading sense of unease and a menacing dream-logic which marries a sly visual wit with piercing psychological insight.

Extra Features:

All films presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
Alternative English language version of the feature
Alice in Wonderland (1903, 10 mins): the first screen version of Lewis Carroll s classic
Alice in Label Land (1974, 12 mins): animated COI film by Richard Taylor
Stille Nacht II: Are We Still Married? (1992, 3 mins): first of the Quay Brothers Alice-inspired short music film
Stille Nacht IV: Can't Go Wrong Without You (1993, 3 mins): Quay Brothers second Alice-inspired short music film
Fully illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essays

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mfunk9786
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#17 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:16 am

Wow, the first BFI/MoC/Criterion release ever with nothing for anyone to complain about!

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MichaelB
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#18 Post by MichaelB » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:37 am

mfunk9786 wrote:Wow, the first BFI/MoC/Criterion release ever with nothing for anyone to complain about!
...apart from the lack of Svankmajer shorts in HD, but these proved impossible to secure. I wasn't too surprised when I heard this: getting hold of decent SD materials for the shorts compilation was hard enough!

And I'm very happy about the alternatives - two more Quay films in HD are always welcome, plus what I think is the oldest film ever (and by some distance) to get a Blu-ray release. And Alice in Label Land is a surprisingly witty and literate COI film about food labelling regulations - I wrote about it here.

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knives
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#19 Post by knives » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:26 pm

MichaelB wrote:plus what I think is the oldest film ever (and by some distance) to get a Blu-ray release.
Just to add some weight to this the next closest film is a 1912 Griffith short on the Three Ages Blu ray. Can't contain my excitement on this one though. BFI is going to be costing my a lot in the next few months.

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Feego
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#20 Post by Feego » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:19 pm

I am overjoyed! This is terrific, and I can't wait to pick this up.

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swo17
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#21 Post by swo17 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:29 pm

release of the year
Indeed. And yet I have to scroll through to page 8 of an amazon search for "Alice" to find it. To save you all the same trouble: link

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Jeff
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#22 Post by Jeff » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:37 pm

Wow! What a great package, and region-free to boot. I'm simply thrilled with this news, and it will certainly be a contender for release of the year. Thanks to all at BFI who made this happen. Adios, piece-of-shit First Run disc.

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Stephen
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#23 Post by Stephen » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:13 pm

It is marvellous news that this beautifully grotesque film is finally being released in the UK in such a superb package, I can now retire my appalling VCL VHS edition. Here's hoping that sales are strong enough that we may also see 'Conspirators of Pleasure' & 'Faust' finally released in the UK.

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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#24 Post by Zobalob » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:57 pm

Ordered, really looking forward to this on Blu-Ray, plus the two Quay shorts in HD too!

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Adam Grikepelis
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Re: Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

#25 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:28 am

can't help thinking, while related short films are being added to the disc, that Svankmajer's own 'Down to the Cellar' would've made a nice companion piece. but more Quay's in HD is always good too :)

not that I don't intend to finally get BFI's collection sometime soon...

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