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 Post subject: 40 Valley of the Bees
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 7:13 pm 
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Announced in the new Second Run catalogue, included with Daisies.

Quote:
The exciting rediscovery of František Vláčil was helped through our release of his 1967 masterpiece Marketa Lazarová. As a result of the wonderful response we have had to that film, Second Run are delighted to announce that we will be releasing more of this important filmmaker's work during 2009.

The Valley of the Bees
(Údoli včel)
A film by František Vláčil
Czechoslovakia, 1967
SRDVD 040


Although different in style and tone, whilst still sharing its resplendent black-and-white widescreen cinematography and a highly convincing recreation of the medieval era, Vláčil's The Valley of the Bees is just as complex a film as his Marketa Lazarová.

Vláčil poses his characters a series of impossible moral conundra, forcing them to choose between their own desires and codes that regulate their behaviour but suppress their humanity.

My review of the Facets disc - I'm expecting this to be a considerable improvement!

Based on precedent, it'll probably be the Czech DVD (reviewed by DVDFreak here) with added - and properly synchronised - English subtitles.


Last edited by MichaelB on Fri May 22, 2009 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 8:43 pm 
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I just uttered a series of very vulgar and shameful words.

Out of JOY.

=P~


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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 11:05 pm 
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Oh. hell. yes. =D>

Wonderful, wonderful news. (Incidentally, there should be a haček over the "c" in včel.) Having read MichaelB's reviews of Valley... and Adelheid, I'm looking forward to seeing both films, but this news means I can remove the Facets discs from my netflix queue and wait for the SR releases instead.


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 4:39 am 
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Thanks for that - fixed.

Two or three years ago, Second Run told me that their policy was to avoid duplicating Facets releases, but I'm glad to see this has fallen by the wayside - Valerie and Daisies are dramatically superior to their Facets counterparts, and I'm sure the same will be true of this.

I'm only sorry they're not doing Vláčil's The White Dove, which is another film that badly needs a decent DVD (the Facets is VHS quality). But it hasn't got one even in the Czech Republic, so I'm guessing a suitable master just isn't available right now.

On the other hand, some of Vláčil's 1970s films are out on DVD without subtitles... (hint hint)


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 5:15 am 
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Out of his 60s films Ďáblova past hasn't got a release either. Too bad I missed it when it was on TV. Strangely Koncert na konci léta, a film about the composer Antonín Dvořák has been scheduled for a release by Bonton for a few months now, but never appeared. It would be very nice to get a release of his shorter films Pověst o stříbrné jedli and Sirius, which have children as protagonists, maybe alongside with Holubice.
The other unreleased films are Hadí jed and Pasáček z doliny, don't know when they will get a release though. (Also the made for TV Albert, doubt this one will get a release at all, as well as Vláčil's short docs he made in the 70s, as a result of being banned from feature filmmaking.)


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 5:40 am 
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Skritek wrote:
It would be very nice to get a release of his shorter films Pověst o stříbrné jedli and Sirius, which have children as protagonists, maybe alongside with Holubice.

Yes, not least because The White Dove/Holubice is itself very short for a feature. But I suspect that particular ball is in a Czech label's court.


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 3:01 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm
Excellent news ... an even better film than Marketa Lazarova. Let's just hope Second Run doesn't have to censor any animal footage in this one.

The Facets DVD of Adelheid looks even worse than The White Dove, so let's throw that one on SR's plate, too. EDIT: Never mind, I hadn't read down to #41 yet. Bravo!


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 4:19 pm 
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Perkins Cobb wrote:
Excellent news ... an even better film than Marketa Lazarova. Let's just hope Second Run doesn't have to censor any animal footage in this one.

I was wondering about that as well. Unlike the scenes snipped from Marketa, the hunting scene is pretty significant and perhaps even crucial for interpretive reasons.

This is a great film, but it seems like a very calculated aesthetic retreat from the far more radical and inventive style of Marketa. Not that it necessarily suffers from that -- its far more economical, accessible and immediately impactful film for that reason. But it does come fast off the heels of one of the greatest films ever made, and for me the comparison is both unfortunate and unavoidable.


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 4:28 pm 
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Everytime I see it (well and some other Czech "historical" films) I'm amazed at how an "ancient" atmosphere is created. It's as if the viewer was actually living there.


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 5:32 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm
Skritek wrote:
Everytime I see it (well and some other Czech "historical" films) I'm amazed at how an "ancient" atmosphere is created. It's as if the viewer was actually living there.

Exactly - I think it even tops The Seventh Seal in that regard.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:06 pm 
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Has a release date of March 22, 2010 on Amazon UK.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:22 am 
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Only two more months to wait, then. Judging from what little I've read, this shares some strong thematic concerns with Marketa Lazarová (for example, intolerance) beyond the mere fact of both being set in the Medieval Era. Again, so glad this is getting a proper dvd release.


Last edited by jbeall on Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:59 am 
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Perkins Cobb wrote:
Excellent news ... an even better film than Marketa Lazarova. Let's just hope Second Run doesn't have to censor any animal footage in this one.


They don't - I'm delighted to confirm that the BBFC has passed it uncut.

Hopefully I'll get a look at the actual transfer before too long - but whatever the picture's like, it's guaranteed to be superior to the Facets if only because the subtitles will be small, white, optional and properly synchronised.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:13 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
Having checked again through the new master, am happy to confirm that it looks great. The Second Run release will certainly not feature the same audio flaws (jarring 'pops' at reel changes etc.) and visual blemishes that mar the Facets release.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:55 pm 
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Uh-oh, Bikey's started smacking Facets around! :shock:

(Grabs popcorn, reclines in easy chair.)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 8:50 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
Apologies - that was never my intention to diss Facets (or any other label for that matter). I was just over-excited having looked at our new master and having watched the Facets disc again over the weekend to compare.
We have only admiration for Facets for bringing great movies to US audiences.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:40 pm 
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Bikey wrote:
Apologies - that was never my intention to diss Facets (or any other label for that matter). I was just over-excited having looked at our new master and having watched the Facets disc again over the weekend to compare.
We have only admiration for Facets for bringing great movies to US audiences.


Bikey, I was only kidding! You (and your previous incarnation) have been nothing but class since you began posting here. Moreover, you don't need to smack Facets around--there are plenty of people in this forum to do that!

In fairness to Facets, their newer releases are far better than their earlier ones. I'm interested in East-Central European cinema, especially Czech, so I've watched a number of Facets' Czech films. Their earliest releases are so bad as to suggest nothing less than a hatred of cinema! Their newer releases are better, but (as I've posted elsewhere), even when their subs aren't burned-in, they're still mistimed and egregiously imcomplete. Ergo, given the choice, I'll still pick up SR's dvds over Facets any day; your discs are head and shoulder above even Facets's better releases. That's not a diss; it's just accurate.

I'm glad that Facets brought All My Good Countrymen to dvd, but if SR released their own version (with complete and accurate subs), I'd double-dip in a second. Although it's shameful in 2010, there simply isn't a R1 label releasing quality versions of films from the region. I'm just thankful that SR does.


Last edited by jbeall on Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:53 pm 
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Valley of the Bees is the best of Facets' Vláčil releases by some distance, but it's still soft, interlaced, standards-converted, non-anamorphic and with ugly, fixed and poorly-synched subtitles. Even improving on one of those issues would be welcome, but I suspect the Second Run release will be superior on every count. And probably cheaper.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:04 pm 
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What he said.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:19 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
jbeall and MichaelB,
Thanks for your kind words and confidence in us. Fingers crossed that it'll be justified on BEES...


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:46 am 
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Bikey's right to be excited - I've just watched the first ten minutes of the master, and it's an even more marked improvement on the Facets equivalent than Daisies was.

The source print appears to be in flawless condition (so a definite step up from Marketa Lazarová), the transfer is anamorphic and progressive, the subtitles white, optional and properly synchronised, the framing is the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio (there was a brief heart-in-mouth moment when it started in 16:9, but that turned out to be the menu), and the picture runs the gamut from deep, rich blacks to brilliant whites with a nice tonal range in the middle - so an improvement on Marketa's excessive contrast. In short, it really was everything I could possibly have hoped for.

It's overwhelmingly likely that this is the same source master used by Bonton - framegrabs here - which DVDFreak describes as follows:

Quote:
According to the info posted on zona.bloudil.cz, Bonton planned to produce this DVD from exactly the same master they provided Facets with last year. Fortunately, a group of enthusiasts at BrickBox authoring studios took matters into their hands, and cleaned the print up a treat, as you can see in the examples below. I'm convinced this is the best the film's gonna look, short of transfer from the original negative, and kudos belongs to Patrik Velek, Petr Sudek & Petr Menčík!


I'll watch it properly when I get my hands on a big plasma screen, but even a quick spin on my MacBook makes it clear that this is now the best English-friendly František Vláčil DVD, and by some distance.

UPDATE: I've since found out that this is indeed the Czech DVD master, but that Second Run have cleaned it up further - there's a lot of chain mail in this film, which was presenting encoding challenges!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:19 am 
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New cover is up.
Image


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:22 am 
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Very nice.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:11 pm 
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Fabulous cover - sums the film up perfectly. The crosses aren't just visually striking but look as though they've been branded onto the knights - which, given that the penalty for defying the Order of St Mary of Jerusalem is a swift and public death, is pretty close to the truth.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:49 pm 
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Beautiful cover, and this is a fantastic film. I actually prefer it to Marketa Lazarova, which makes it one of the greatest films of the 60s for me. Andrey Rublyov fans shouldn't hesitate.


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