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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:09 pm 
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Location: Reading, UK
Echoing the comments that this cover is absolutely gorgeous, I'm very much looking forward to this having fallen in love with Marketa Lazarova last year. Second Run's line-up between January and May is possibly the strongest line up I from any label I've seen in a long time; i'm hitting the pre-order button on a weekly basis at the moment.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:09 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
Graeme Hobbs revisits Marketa Lazarová in anticipation of The Valley of the Bees at MovieMail


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:31 pm 
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I finally had the chance to watch a final release copy on a 42" plasma, and I doubt anyone will be disappointed - this is very comfortably Second Run's best black-and-white Scope release to date.

My only technical quibbles are that there are a handful of instances of mild moiré shimmering, but given that this almost invariably involves long shots of people in chain mail, I think this is more a reflection of the limitations of the SD DVD medium than any criticism of Second Run's transfer. Otherwise it looks fabulous - much less contrasty than Marketa Lazarová's source print, and I think the occasional bleached-out highlights are deliberate, given that the first instance also incorporates a dissolve to brilliant white.

Another thing that impressed me was that the subtitles include Czech diacritics on names - something I hardly ever see on DVDs that didn't originate from the Czech Republic in the first place. It's a small detail, but one that shows real respect for the material, given that this is basic spelling rather than fancy decoration.

There are no extras on the disc, but Peter Hames' extremely comprehensive booklet essay is longer than average to compensate.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:55 pm 
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Great news. Here's hoping Second Run continue to quietly clean up after Facets for years to come.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:06 am 
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I'd love them to tackle The White Dove. In fact, I've just ordered a quartet of Czech Vláčil DVDs of his later films - unsubtitled, but there are fan subs out there for at least one of them, and I'm sure I'll get at least something out of the others.

Incidentally, BFI Southbank is planning to host a Vláčil retrospective later this year - I'm not sure how extensive it'll be (I suspect availability of decent prints will be a major factor in reaching a final decision), but I've been granted permission to mention this in my upcoming review of Valley of the Bees, which suggests that it will be going ahead in some form whatever happens.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:27 am 
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Location: http://www.eldiabolik.com
Excellent news. As a newcomer to Vlácil, I look forward to seeing his films for the first time on the big screen.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:13 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
Little White Lies


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:29 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
Full DVD detail on The Valley of the Bees is now up at our website (sorry for the delay in getting that published).
http://www.secondrundvd.com/release_votb.php


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:27 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
Great review from Alan Stanbrook at The Sunday Telegraph


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:11 pm 
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Location: Cheltenham, England
DVD Times


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:19 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
Wonders in the Dark


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:04 am 

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DVD Outsider


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:23 pm 
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Beaver.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:58 am 

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Electric Sheep


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:29 pm 
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Sight & Sound


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:55 am 
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The Auteurs.


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 8:23 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
The Arts Desk


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 8:24 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
Oxford Times


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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 8:46 am 
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Oxford Times wrote:
Bearing the influence of Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson, Luis Buñuel and Andrei Tarkovsky,


Hmm - would Vláčil really have been influenced by Tarkovsky in 1967? It's highly unlikely that he would have seen the still-suppressed Andrei Rublev, and there's not much in common between Ivan's Childhood and Valley of the Bees!


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 9:07 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
Another excellent review - this one with thanks to Thomas Spurlin at DVD Talk


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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:22 pm 
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Location: Atlanta-ish
Hm, little commentary aside from the selection of reviews. :-k On the other hand, one could be forgiven were this film to leave him speechless.

Although my handle on Czech grows rustier by the day, I was so happy to be able to turn the subs off (there's not that much dialogue, anyway) and just look at the stunning widescreen, deep-focus shots. To say that Vláčil has a painterly eye is something of an understatement; despite the nastiness of some of the characters in this film, the scenery is almost always beautiful to look at, and predisposes any apathetic viewers to take the side of the more pagan characters.

In addition to the gorgeous deep-focus shots, I noticed a good many close-ups of the actors' faces. Petr Čepek and Jan Kačer are especially good in letting repressed emotions play across their faces. They do a wonderful job (as does Věra Galatíková) of portraying the ambivalence of being caught between the rigid code of a distant Christianity and the more inviting earthiness of their surroundings.

Anyway, this is an incredible film, less oblique than Marketa Lazarová but every bit as cinematically powerful. I think Valley is probably a better introduction to Vlacil than the former, though.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 2:23 pm 
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Finally watched this last night. It's one of the best films about the Middle Ages that I've seen so far and confirms my admiration for Vláčil as a director. Yes, it's less wild and "oblique" than the stunning Marketa Lazarová, but it has a beautifully cohesive script. Where it really distinguishes itself from other masterpieces about the Middle Ages such as The Seventh Seal and Andrei Rublev is the way it delves into the psychology of its characters. For example, whereas Andrei Rublev operates on the scale of a grand historical tableau full of ruminations about Art and History, The Valley of the Bees treats its individual characters in a more complex and individualized manner. The blind girl in The Valley of the Bees is more interesting than either the pagan woman to which Rublev is attracted or the holy fool that he keeps with him. I wouldn't argue that Vláčil's film is finally better than Tarkovsky's, but it's truly great in its own way.

I haven't been doing many blind buys lately, but this is an amazing discovery.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 8:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:02 am
I'll also chime in with some praise. The film excels in many ways; I particularly like the use of sound, which is simple but very striking. The authenticity of the film is overwhelming. With this film and Marketa Lazarová, it's almost as though Vláčil went to the Middle Ages and shot two films there on location: one straight drama, one avant-garde epic. Based on what I've read about the process of making Marketa Lazarová, that might not be so far from the truth.

It's a very peculiar film, though. It feels alien to me -- Marketa Lazarová had a similar quality, though its effects weren't as intense. It might have been made by someone who lived then, its perspective is so far from how we think today. Its authenticity stems not only from the details, but from the way it treats its subject matter.

Other films about the Middle Ages seem like they use medieval trappings couched in a modern sensibility. The Seventh Seal, even The Virgin Spring. This isn't a criticism; it makes sense for a film made today to reflect our perspective. Which is why I find Vláčil's films so strange. I see his films and feel no inherent criticism of the cruelty they depict. And the cruelty is unrelenting, with everyone closer to savagery than civility. Whether the Middle Ages were quite that miserable, I don't know. One wonders how anyone could manage to survive into adulthood. But this attitude builds a world full of people stripped to their psychological core. They seem closer to instinct than to thought. The notion of pleasure seems irrelevant; there is only survival and religious fanaticism. I find the depiction absolutely fascinating, and more than a little terrifying -- because I feel like this depiction is probably close to the truth, and what I see seems at once human and utterly inhuman. Not inhumane, mind you. That doesn't concern me. But inhuman. Alien. Animal.

Engrossing film. Can't get it out of my head.

Also, the dogs. In this film and in Marketa Lazarová. Something about them, can't quite get it into words. I'll try to come back to that sometime.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2010 7:01 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 4:09 am
karmajuice, jsteffe - it's been a pleasure to read your thoughts on the film. I'm so glad that people are seeing and reacting to the wonderful films that Vláčil has made; for us, and labels like MoC and the BFI, that's often the real satisfaction from what we do. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:20 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:16 am
Location: http://www.eldiabolik.com
MichaelB wrote:
Incidentally, BFI Southbank is planning to host a Vláčil retrospective later this year - I'm not sure how extensive it'll be (I suspect availability of decent prints will be a major factor in reaching a final decision), but I've been granted permission to mention this in my upcoming review of Valley of the Bees, which suggests that it will be going ahead in some form whatever happens.


This has now been confirmed for September. Michael do you have any idea what they are showing? Any special events?


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