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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:04 am 
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This news item on the 2013 Kinoteka Polish Film Festival (March 7-17) has the following bit of info to whet your appetites...

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Accompanying the screening of Andrzej Wajda’s Promised Land, Kinoteka will also present new remastered copies of Krzysztof Zanussi’s Illumination and The Escape From Liberty by Wojciech Marczewski, all screened at the Barbican and released during the festival on by Second Run DVD as the second edition of its critically acclaimed “Polish Cinema Classics’ series.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:22 pm 
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I knew about Illumination, but not the others.

Escape from the Liberty Cinema is a lovely little film - the kind of thing you'd end up with if you transplanted The Purple Rose of Cairo to a Polish government film censor's office. It's also a rarity in Polish cinema: a comedy that's genuinely funny even if you don't speak Polish. I wrote about it in more detail here.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:37 pm 
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Which Promised Land do we get here? The Wajda recut, the TV version or the original cinema version (which would be most interesting)?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:31 pm 
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Second Run's Coming Soon page confirms the contents...

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A second volume of our acclaimed series. Second Run DVD proudly presents three celebrated works of Polish Cinema, now fully restored and released for the first time ever in the UK.

Andrzej Wajda – PROMISED LAND (Ziemia obiecana, 1974)
Voted the best film in the history of Polish cinema in the monthly Polish magazine Film, Wajda's epic Promised Land is a wry, incisive, and elegantly realized Dickensian tale of greed, human cruelty, exploitation and betrayal.

Krzysztof Zanussi - ILLUMINATION (Iluminacja, 1973)
Zanussi's philosophical/scientific exploration of man’s place in the world. Illumination serves as an idiosyncratic, engaging, and insightful fusion of science and art, precision and creativity, intellect and emotion.

Wojciech Marczewski - ESCAPE FROM 'LIBERTY' CINEMA (Ucieczka z kina 'Wolność', 1990)
Marczewski engaging anti-communist satire (with shades of Keaton's Sherlock, Jr. and Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo) is a darkly comic, complex, allusive and deeply-felt examination of the nature and effects of censorship, directed by one of Poland's leading intellectual - and much censored - filmmakers.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:16 pm 
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Amazon pre-order


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:03 am 
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Since they've now confirmed the contents, I can probably also get away with confirming that The Promised Land, much to my genuine surprise, appears to be the original 1974 cinema version.

I'm very curious to know why Wajda changed his mind, as he was pretty clear about why he recut it in 2000. But this new transfer is definitely Wajda-approved.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:51 pm 
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Perhaps I am just being super ignorant about things, but what's with the prejudice towards releasing the Kadr films over the other units? It seems to comprise all of SR's (and most other companies) Polish releases.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:00 pm 
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knives wrote:
Perhaps I am just being super ignorant about things, but what's with the prejudice towards releasing the Kadr films over the other units? It seems to comprise all of SR's (and most other companies) Polish releases.

Because Studio Kadr (the reconstituted version of the old Kadr Film Unit) has been extensively restoring its back catalogue, often in collaboration with original directors/cinematographers, so they can supply high-quality HD masters that are vastly superior to the SD masters that most other Polish releases have to put up with.

Hopefully, other Polish rightsholders will follow suit, because it's pretty obvious why the Kadr catalogue is more appealing right now.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:02 pm 
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That makes sense, though is a sad truth. Now if only somebody get get to work on everything else.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:42 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
knives wrote:
That makes sense, though is a sad truth. Now if only somebody get get to work on everything else.

We've taken your words to heart, knives... in fact, our Volume Two boxset comprises films which are from and have been restored by Studio TOR and Studio X.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:46 pm 
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Actually, that's a very good point - of course Promised Land is from the X Film Unit, not Kadr!

Some of Wajda's early features were made for Kadr, but by the 1970s he was running his own film unit.

There have been an impressive number of Wajda restorations in recent years, almost certainly taking advantage of the fact that he's still around to approve them - cleaned-up versions of Ashes and Diamonds, Innocent Sorcerers, The Wedding, The Promised Land and The Young Ladies of Wilko have all been unveiled in recent years, and I daresay that list is incomplete.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:17 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
We can also confirm that all three films are brand new restorations.
Promised Land is the full original theatrical version.
This new restoration was fully supervised by and approved by Andrzej Wajda and Witold Sobociński (one of Promised Land's three cinematographers).


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:31 am 
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I've just received a test pressing of The Promised Land, and can confirm that the running time is 2h42m56s - which would be a whisker under 170 minutes if run theatrically.

Interestingly, the Film Polski database gives a running time of 179 minutes, but on closer inspection it seems that this only applies to the 70mm print (6,120 metres) as opposed to the 35mm version (4,632 metres). The latter would last 2h48m51 secs - in other words pretty much exactly the running time of the Second Run transfer (pre-PAL speedup), with a minute of digital restoration credits at the end explaining the remaining discrepancy. I have no idea what the differences were between the 35mm and 70mm versions - it could be something as simple as intermission music, especially since long films were often shown in two parts in eastern Europe and the USSR.

Anyway, since this transfer has been signed off by Wajda himself (who has been actively and by all accounts enthusiastically involved with this release), we can probably accept it as definitive - and it's clearly a substantially different cut from the 2000 revamp (2h18m22s) and the TV version (3h26m09s).

I've done a rough-and-ready comparison with my Polish DVDs of the other versions, which reveal quite a few differences. Second Run's framing is 1.66:1 versus 16:9 for the other two, the latter appearing to have been cropped to a greater or lesser extent on all four sides. The colour grading varies noticeably from transfer to transfer, with a strong yellow/green bias affecting the TV version, the 2000 version showing a less marked tendency in a similar direction, and the Second Run disc looking the most "natural". Given the involvement of Wajda and cinematographer Witold Sobocinski in creating this new transfer, it's probably safe to say that we're not dealing with a Melville/Decaë situation (i.e. where the less natural-looking version is in fact closer to intentions). Also, unsurprisingly, the Second Run transfer is much cleaner - the others have plenty of visible damage.


Last edited by MichaelB on Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:16 am 
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I hope seperate releases of the films will follow ... or are Illuminacja and Ucieczka noticeable improvements on the quality of the Polish Zanussi and Marczewski boxes?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:31 am 
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lubitsch wrote:
I hope seperate releases of the films will follow ... or are Illuminacja and Ucieczka noticeable improvements on the quality of the Polish Zanussi and Marczewski boxes?

I haven't seen them yet, but they'll also be recent digital restorations carried out by the same people - so yes, they should also be a marked improvement.

I'm particularly keen to see the new version of Escape from the Liberty Cinema, as I strongly suspect that the existing DVD was sourced from a theatrical print - the image is very contrasty, shadow detail is all but nonexistent (a big deal when so much of the film takes place in a darkened auditorium), and there's quite a bit of damage.

I also understand that all three discs will include new video interviews with the films' respective directors, and the usual comprehensive booklets. (I'm writing the Marczewski one myself, which is why I'm all too familiar with the current DVD!)

(UPDATE: Second Run have assured me that "they do look gorgeous - streets ahead of the Polish copies we have". Which isn't at all hard to believe given the way that the transfers in the first Polish Cinema Classics box were similarly massive advances on the old Polish DVDs. True, none of the existing DVDs of the Volume II films ever looked as bad as, say, the original VHS-quality Eroica, but there's still plenty of room for improvement.)


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:08 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
Michael Brooke at MovieMail


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:10 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
BTW, all three of these films are playing - in their newly-restored versions - at this year's 11th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival.

Wajda's THE PROMISED LAND is the Opening Night film on Thursday March 7th at Barbican;

ESCAPE FROM THE 'LIBERTY' CINEMA on Tuesday March 12th at Barbican - followed by a Q&A with director Wojciech Marczewski;

ILLUMINATION on Friday March 15th at Barbican, followed by a Q&A with director Krzysztof Zanussi.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:55 am 
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I've just been sent checkdiscs of the new transfers, and they're all a clear advance on my Polish DVDs.

I've already described The Promised Land above, which is a runaway first choice against a fair amount of competition.

Escape from the Liberty Cinema is now framed at 1.85:1, as opposed to the Polish disc's 1.74:1 - although running them side by side reveals very little compositional difference: just a sliver off the top and bottom. What's much more obvious is that the Second Run source materials are far superior - the print used for the Polish DVD is in less than wonderful condition (much too contrasty, very pasty fleshtones, spots and scratches all too obvious), and I can also now see clear evidence of edge enhancement that isn't the case with Second Run's transfer. The latter's image is more or less pristine, the contrast range far better (although the image is still pretty dark: hardly surprisingly given that much of the film takes place in a cinema auditorium and projection room), and it's clearly undergone a full regrade.

Illumination also shows a clear improvement, although the differences aren't quite as dramatic as the Polish disc really wasn't that bad to begin with. Both transfers are framed at 16:9, although the Second Run transfer reveals more at the sides and the bottom, and has much more visible film grain. Other than that, the main differences are that the Second Run transfer is (again) pretty much pristine - the Polish print isn't in as bad a state as Liberty Cinema, but you don't have to look hard to spot damage - and the Second Run disc's colours are slightly more naturalistic, although there's not much in it.

In short, then, The Promised Land shows the most dramatic improvement (in that it's an arguably superior and otherwise unavailable cut of the film on top of a clearly superior transfer), Escape from the Liberty Cinema has a drastically improved transfer, and Illumination has a reasonably improved one in that the Polish disc looked pretty good until I ran it side by side with Second Run's. And of course the Second Run discs have English-friendly extras (interviews, booklet essays).


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:36 am 
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Second Run's latest newsletter confirms full specs.

All three discs have brand new interviews with the films' respective directors, while Illumination also has Marcin Latałło's 1996 documentary A Trace (Sląd), a portrait of his father Stanisław, who played the lead in Illumination two years before dying in a mountaineering accident. Information in Polish here, Google-translated version here.

They also have the usual comprehensive booklets, the honours this time round being assumed by David Thompson (The Promised Land), Michał Oleszczyk (Illumination) and yours truly (Escape from the Liberty Cinema). I haven't read the others yet, but my piece consists of a 4,500-word appraisal of both the film and Wojciech Marczewski's career, about which little is known in the UK - he's unquestionably one of the major Polish filmmakers of the past three or four decades, but I think this will be the first British commercial release of any of his films.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:21 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:03 am
once again wonderful news from Second Run.
I reckon all the 3 movies are definitely masterpieces and are a must-see for a art-house aficionados. "Promised land" definitely in top5 by Wajda, Zanussi admittedly made 2 or 3 better things inho (think of "The Structure of Crystals" or the phenomenal "Camouflage") but still "Illumination" is a cracker (+one of my favourite polish school poster ever made) and "The Escape From Liberty Cinema" is a monster of a movie with a last scene that is just a total killer (it literally ground my brain while seeing it for the first time).


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:58 am 

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A packed Sold Out Kinoteka Opening Night screening last night at Barbican for Wajda's THE PROMISED LAND - which looked absolutely stunning on the big screen. Tickets still available for ESCAPE FROM THE 'LIBERTY' CINEMA + screentalk with Wojciech Marczewski on Tuesday 12th at 6.30pm, and for ILLUMINATION on Friday 15th at 6.30pm with Krysztof Zanussi screentalk.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:34 am 
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Do you know the screening formant of these? I've been burned a couple of times recently by the Barbican screening DVDs.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:00 am 

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These are screening from new DCPs created from the same director-approved newly restored elements that we've utilised for our upcoming DVD releases, but they are NOT screening from DVD.
THE PROMISED LAND really did look amazing last night.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:41 am 
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Great! Thanks Bikey.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:19 am 
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I'm very happy to second the opinion of how amazing The Promised Land looked last night - it looked so lab-fresh that it's hard to believe that it's nearly forty years old.


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