35 Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

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MichaelB
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35 Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

#1 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 17, 2008 4:59 am

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

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Valerie and Her Week of Wonders mixes horror, fairytale, surrealism and Freudian symbolism to depict the fantastical world inhabited by a young girl on the threshold of adulthood. Haunting and dreamlike, beguiling and magical, the film is a work of pure imagination, and has become a cult classic.

With its stunning visuals and remarkable score, Valerie casts a powerful spell and is one of the most enduring and influential fantasies ever made

Special Features

- Filmed Interview with Jaroslava Schallerová (Valerie).
- Newly filmed introduction by writer and film historian Michael Brooke.
- New digital transfer with restored image and sound.
- New and improved English subtitle translation.
- Optimal quality dual-layer disc.
- Booklet featuring a new essay by film programmer and author Peter Hames and an appreciation by Joseph A. Gervasi of Exhumed Films.

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What A Disgrace
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#2 Post by What A Disgrace » Tue Jun 17, 2008 1:24 pm

MichaelB wrote:Now on Play.com, though no cover artwork as yet.
Spece are up, though.

* Interview with Valerie star Jaroslava Schallerová
* New interview/introduction by film historian Michael Brooke
* Booklet essay by Peter Hames

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jbeall
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#3 Post by jbeall » Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:06 pm

So those of us on the left side of the pond will finally get to see what MichaelB looks like! (I trust you don't really resemble the little girl in your avatar... :lol: )

Seriously, this looks like another great SR release--it'll probably be their best release of 2008 for me (although I'm into Czech films, therefore totally biased), and SR gets extra brownie points by allowing me to avoid a Facets dvd. Nice array of extras, too.

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domino harvey
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#4 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:23 pm

Thank God for Second Run! Now if only someone would rescue Daisies...

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jbeall
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#5 Post by jbeall » Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:46 pm

domino harvey wrote:Thank God for Second Run! Now if only someone would rescue Daisies...
...or more importantly, Fruit of Paradise. (I say this only b/c Facets' Daisies is pretty good by their standards, while the latter film is yet another Facets abomination.)

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domino harvey
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#6 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:47 pm

jbeall wrote:So those of us on the left side of the pond will finally get to see what MichaelB looks like! (I trust you don't really resemble the little girl in your avatar... :lol: )
Well, don't get confused when you pop in the DVD, as she is the star of this film

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MichaelB
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#7 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:16 pm

domino harvey wrote:Thank God for Second Run! Now if only someone would rescue Daisies...
The Facets Daisies isn't at all bad - a decent transfer with burned-in subs, but they are at least white and in sync. So there's not a lot for Second Run to improve on, aside from making them optional.

As for Valerie, I'm only a contributor so all this is second-hand, but here's what I know about the DVD:

I haven't seen the transfer yet, but I understand that it will either be the one featured on the Czech DVD or possibly a more recent one even than that. Even if it's the former, it's still going to be miles better than the Facets or Redemption editions (comparison). 4:3 is the correct aspect ratio - this was almost universal in Czech cinema at the time, aside from rare big-budget Scope efforts like Marketa Lazarová.

I believe the Jaroslava Schallerová interview is the one that's on the Czech DVD, only with English subtitles. It's a rather sweet piece: very much in schoolgirl reminiscence mode, with lots of stuff about sneaking off to the auditions behind her parents' back, meeting her first boyfriend on the set and nearly getting burned to death during the pyre scene.

There are two other interviews on that DVD (with actor Jan Klusák and film historian Pavel Taussig), but I drew heavily on both of them, so you're not missing anything significant - I'm guessing that the very brief Klusák piece was filmed as a by-product of an interview for a different DVD, as he clearly doesn't like either the film or its director very much! He was originally down to compose the music as well, but he hated the shoot so much that he changed his mind - and in my piece I argue that this was a good thing, since Luboš Fišer's music turned out to be absolutely perfect, and I'm not sure Klusák's typically dissonant, modernist style would have fitted quite as well.

I haven't seen the edited version of my contribution, so I can only confirm that I filmed roughly 15-20 minutes of material, and then left it with them. Hopefully they'll cut in clips and stills so you don't have to put up with looking at me all the time. It's more anecdotal than analytical, because I'm guessing that the Peter Hames essay will be the other way round - based on his other Second Run booklet essays, I'm assuming it will draw very heavily on the section on Valerie in 'The Czechoslovak New Wave'.

As for the content, I provide background on original author Vítězslav Nezval (one of the founders of Czech Surrealism) and the film's two main creative contributors (Jaromil Jireš and Ester Krumbachová), describe the troubled shoot and the surrounding political context, the film's reception in Czechoslovakia (both by the authorities and the public) and internationally, and its acknowledged influence on Angela Carter in general and The Company of Wolves in particular. I also squeezed in a bit about Murnau's Nosferatu (which Nezval saw, and became obsessed by, shortly before writing the novel) and why Valerie isn't considered a Surrealist film despite its origins. Whether all of that ends up in the final edit is anyone's guess, though!

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Skritek
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#8 Post by Skritek » Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:10 pm

I'd recommend reading the original book by Nezval, it's also very great and poetic. Additionally I was really surprised at how close the film is to the book, except some minor things like age and hair-color.

And I agree with MichaelB that Fiser's score is great and I doubt Klusák would have made a fitting one. On the other hand I'm constantly surprised at how unique his scores are and still work very much, I'd even claim they play an integral part in Schorm's films, even if his films don't seem like the type that relies on music.

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MichaelB
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#9 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:16 pm

Skritek wrote:I'd recommend reading the original book by Nezval, it's also very great and poetic. Additionally I was really surprised at how close the film is to the book, except some minor things like age and hair-color.
I think I mentioned the age issue in my piece - bizarrely enough, Valerie is seventeen in the book, but only thirteen in the film, which is a reversal of the usual book-to-film transfer! (Kubrick's Lolita being a case in point). But since both novel and film begin with Valerie getting her first period, seventeen was clearly much too old - whether Nezval came up with that age out of fear of censorship or simple ignorance I'm not sure.
And I agree with MichaelB that Fiser's score is great and I doubt Klusák would have made a fitting one. On the other hand I'm constantly surprised at how unique his scores are and still work very much, I'd even claim they play an integral part in Schorm's films, even if his films don't seem like the type that relies on music.
Klusák also wrote two superb scores for Jan Švankmajer's The Fall of the House of Usher and Dimensions of Dialogue. The collaboration doesn't seem to have been a very happy one - Švankmajer was clearly trying to find a replacement for the great Zdeněk Liška, and Klusák's scores were much subtler, to the extent that many people are surprised to be told that Dimensions of Dialogue had any music at all! Anyway, they ceased working together after that second film, since when Švankmajer has generally relied exclusively on library music, or none at all.

solent

#10 Post by solent » Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:32 pm

I could never get into the Facets version due to the sub sync issue. The DVD has sat on my shelf since I received it from the US. Now I can finally watch it without getting annoyed.

This Czech release has me crossing my fingers for SR to give us Evald Schorm's two '60s classics as well. The fact that both COURAGE FOR EVERYDAY & PRODIGAL SON have come in the Czech Republic recently offers us some hope (I hope).

[Now if SZINBAD & THE FALCONS made their appearence as well then this would be a good year.]

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Skritek
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#11 Post by Skritek » Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:56 am

Frankly I don't think Courage Every Day is that good. "End of a Priest" was in my eyes much better (except for the picture quality) and the same will probably be true for "Seventh Day, Eighth Night".

I ordered a while ago a book on Schorm with a DVD of his early shorts. It was a limited edition and I don't have it in my hands yet. But if there is interest I might put them on youtube when I'll find the time.

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Lamourderer
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#12 Post by Lamourderer » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:08 pm

I saw this movie some time ago (maybe a year or so) from Redemption's horrible dvd. Still it was a great experience and it's nice to see it getting a proper treatment. This is a must-preorder, especially since I bought the film's great soundtrack on vinyl a while ago and was reminded of it's uniqueness. I also recommend the soundtrack, it works so well as a background music on warm summer evenings.

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domino harvey
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#13 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:13 pm

Someone needs to adjust this by 4% so it can play along with the Second Run DVD:

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Last edited by domino harvey on Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MichaelB
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#14 Post by MichaelB » Fri Jun 20, 2008 5:44 am

domino harvey wrote:Someone needs to adjust this by 4% so it can play along with the Second Run DVD:
I actually loaded up the Valerie Project CD into Soundtrack Pro with the intention of doing just that, but it's not quite as simple as just speeding it up by 4%, since I don't think the introductory track is meant to play alongside the film.

So what I need to do is calculate the combined running time of all but the first track, work out how much that should be sped up to fit the film, then apply the same degree of acceleration to the first track, and then work out exactly when I should press play on the DVD (given that the tracks all seamlessly flow into one another)...

...which is why I haven't got round to it yet!

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luridedith
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#15 Post by luridedith » Fri Jun 20, 2008 7:27 pm

Lamourderer wrote:I also recommend the soundtrack, it works so well as a background music on warm summer evenings.
Oh I know, its so amazing! It never fails to put a smile on my face. Best soundtrack in a movie since The Wicker Man. The Valerie Project one is enjoyable to listen to but nothing compared to the original.

Also any hint of cover art for this release?

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#16 Post by otis » Fri Jun 20, 2008 9:37 pm

Image

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zedz
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#17 Post by zedz » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:37 pm

Though we can assume that's only a placeholder design.

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jbeall
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#18 Post by jbeall » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:51 pm

Even if it is only a placeholder design, it'd make a pretty snazzy cover. Although SR's covers lately have been unfailingly cool, so I'm looking forward to what they manage to put in its place.

EDIT: Now that the cover art is updated, I love it. The pale blue trim is a little off, but the design itself is great. More Czech films, please!!
Last edited by jbeall on Sat Aug 02, 2008 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hopscotch
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#19 Post by Hopscotch » Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:37 pm

Just saw Valerie like a minute ago on a boot of the Czech DVD, and, though I can't claim to have completely understood it, I really loved it. I will definitely be purchasing Second Run's DVD, and I'm so glad they're putting it out! Who'd have thought bizarro lesbian vampire soft porn could be so beautiful and haunting?

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#20 Post by Cinephrenic » Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:25 pm

I often see this film mentioned as part of the Czech New Wave, but it seems more a fantasy experimental cinema far of that with the characteristics of the 60s films from Czechoslovakia. I'm not expert on this, but is this a wrong assestment?

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MichaelB
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#21 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jun 26, 2008 6:58 pm

Cinephrenic wrote:I often see this film mentioned as part of the Czech New Wave, but it seems more a fantasy experimental cinema far of that with the characteristics of the 60s films from Czechoslovakia. I'm not expert on this, but is this a wrong assestment?
Well, the New Wave proper included plenty of fantastical and experimental films too - and there's a very strong link between Valerie and its most obvious predecessors The Party and the Guests, Daisies and The Fruit of Paradise in the form of co-screenwriter/production designer Ester Krumbachová. In fact, the film's arguably closer to her sensibility than it is to that of director Jaromil Jireš.

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#22 Post by Perkins Cobb » Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:40 pm

Not to mention science fiction ... I think Polak's Ikarie XB-1 and Schmidt's End of August at the Hotel Ozone are two of the strongest Czech New Wave films (and occupying far opposite ends of the optimism/pessimism scale, too). I was disappointed to see Peter Hames give them short shrift in his book.

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#23 Post by Person » Sat Jun 28, 2008 10:39 am

Perkins Cobb wrote:Not to mention science fiction ... I think Polak's Ikarie XB-1 and Schmidt's End of August at the Hotel Ozone are two of the strongest Czech New Wave films (and occupying far opposite ends of the optimism/pessimism scale, too). I was disappointed to see Peter Hames give them short shrift in his book.
Yeah, Ikarie is a great pre-2001 work of space Cinema. I have the english-friendly Czech DVD which has a good anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer. An Second Run edition would be nice, though.

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#24 Post by rollotomassi » Sat Jun 28, 2008 1:31 pm

The cover art, even if a placeholder, seems to show Valerie herself, Jaroslava Schallerova, many years later. Does anybody know how old she was when that picture was taken.

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Hopscotch
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#25 Post by Hopscotch » Sat Jun 28, 2008 1:47 pm

A little ways up MichaelB says 13.

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