I watched this last night. I'm pretty sure it's the first Eastern European full-length film I've ever seen - what a terrible admission - and the only name on the credits I recognised was Miroslav Ondricek - Lighting Cameraman on my favourite film If....
Diamonds was also my first Second Run DVD.
I absolutely loved it.
For the first fifteen minutes I thought it was just good and the rest of it brilliant. But of course, thinking of it afterwards, I realised all of it had been brilliant; I just hadn't realised it at first.
I'm not a film critic, so I won't elaborate too much, but the use of images and sound is extraordinary and a scene involving a tram will be added to my list of the greatest film scenes of all time. It's also the best film I've seen since Au revoir les enfants (which I first saw c.1991) that conveys just how unjust, irrational, inhuman and just downright shitty racism (in this case, anti-Semitism) is.
The print had a bit of 'sparkle' and one or two shortlived tramlines - the latter possibly faults with the original negative - and also square cigarette burns at reel changes, but I've seen modern blockbusters in a similar state after a couple of weeks of screenings. The transfer to disc is excellent. It beautifully captures the unusual use of contrast and the depth of detail is excellent. There are some POV shots of a town seen from a tram window where you can look right down the streets without any unwanted blurring.
I'm often wary of DVD extras as I prefer to have my own instinctive reaction to a film rather than an expert's, but I greatly appreciated the filmed interview with Peter Hames and Michael Brooke's booklet. They enhanced my appreciation of the film and brought my attention to details I may have overlooked.
And all this for £7.99! Bargain! I really must watch some more Eastern European films from this era; they perfectly complement the amazing stuf that was coming out of Britain, France and Germany in the Sixties.
To make amends, I've just ordered My Way Home and Valley of the Bees.