Miklos Jancso on DVD

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skuhn8
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#101 Post by skuhn8 » Wed Mar 19, 2008 7:34 am

Barmy wrote:I have the Confrontation DVD. You might be able to get it from skuhn. There's a Hungarian dude on eBay that sometimes sells it.

Rather than releasing DVDs that have already been done by Clavis, Second Run might consider subtitling the AWESOME transfer of Confrontation (or La Pacifista). I don't see how that could fail to make a profit.
Yes, it's available here if anyone's interested, but the four Jancso's initially released here don't have subtitles according to packaging--the latter six recent releases do. I rented Round Up anyway when it came out to see for myself. Nada. Barmy, do you understand Hungarian? How is your viewing experience of The Confrontation?

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#102 Post by alfons416 » Wed Mar 19, 2008 8:47 am

MichaelB wrote:Red Psalm now published. It's a shame about the subtitles on the Clavis edition (which is otherwise excellent), though as it's not exactly a dialogue-driven film (a bit of an understatement) the frequent typos, awkward phrasings and even occasional cropping are less of a problem than they might otherwise be. I suspect on subsequent viewings I might switch them off altogether.

Curiously, the DVD Beaver review claims - with supporting framegrab evidence, so I'm not about to disagree - that the subtitles are white. But mine are definitely yellow: the film's playing on my laptop as I write this!
That's my review and as you can se the subtitles are white on the feature, but they're yellow on the message of stones documentary. perhaps there are diferent pressing of it? i don't remember the subtitles beeing that bad either (although it was some months since i watched it). If you can point out some errors in the subtitles i can check if they're present on my disc this evening.

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MichaelB
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#103 Post by MichaelB » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:12 am

Here are three samples - there are many more:

2:16 (approx) First blatant typo - "Only the rich peolple have a fatherland"

3:47 (approx) First bit of near-gibberish: "I followed of near the mouvments which had Agitated Hungary"

15:07 (approx) First cropped subtitle: "Where there are many pharisees, their humanism is rare"

The disc was only ordered recently - in fact, it was delivered a week ago.

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Barmy
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#104 Post by Barmy » Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:45 am

Confrontation is not subtitled. No, I don't understand Hungarian. But let's face it, the general gist of Jancso films of this period is pretty straightforward--shifting alliances and, erm, confrontations with authority. It's a very watchable DVD for anyone who enjoys Jancso's signature style.

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foggy eyes
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#105 Post by foggy eyes » Thu Mar 20, 2008 12:44 am

The subtitles on Red Psalm are indeed pretty awful - I was also tempted to turn them off after a while, as attempting to decipher the awkward phrasing was becoming extremely distracting. And they were yellow on my disc too. Michael, would it be right to assume from your reviews that the subtitles on Cantata and Silence and Cry aren't nearly as bad (and don't disappear into the edges of the frame)?

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#106 Post by MichaelB » Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:27 am

foggy eyes wrote:The subtitles on Red Psalm are indeed pretty awful - I was also tempted to turn them off after a while, as attempting to decipher the awkward phrasing was becoming extremely distracting. And they were yellow on my disc too. Michael, would it be right to assume from your reviews that the subtitles on Cantata and Silence and Cry aren't nearly as bad (and don't disappear into the edges of the frame)?
They are indeed not nearly as bad, either textually or presentationally. There are a few minor typos, but it's obvious what's meant.

Cantata has the best subtitles overall; Silence and Cry's are marred by being yellow and not 16:-friendly.

On the basis of what I've seen, plus the clips from other Jancsó releases on the Red Psalm disc, I'd be tempted to nominate Cantata as Clavis' most satisfying Jancsó release all round - though Red Psalm would have comfortably managed that if it hadn't been for the subtitles.

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#107 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:14 am

Do the same problems apply if using the french subtitling? Given that it's almost always more longwinded does it mean the cropping issue is compounded?

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#108 Post by zone_resident » Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:14 am

I am tempted to order Clavis' Red Psalm; but I am hesitating given the subtitle problems.

Is there any reasonable hope for a UK edition of Red Psalm, in near future? Can someone comment?

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#109 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 24, 2008 1:13 pm

zone_resident wrote:I am tempted to order Clavis' Red Psalm; but I am hesitating given the subtitle problems.

Is there any reasonable hope for a UK edition of Red Psalm, in near future? Can someone comment?
Second Run would be the obvious people to ask - you can contact them through their website.

I know they plan to release more Jancsó, but they haven't told me any specific titles yet.

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otis
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#110 Post by otis » Mon Mar 24, 2008 1:22 pm

One of the guys from Second Run mentioned Red Psalm to me as a possible future release, but said that it wouldn't be for some time as they're having a break from Jancsó for a while (at least this year).

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#111 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 24, 2008 1:58 pm

I get the impression they're looking for titles where they don't have to spend too much money but can nonetheless offer a definite improvement on existing releases.

So something like The Confrontation (reputedly excellent transfer, but no subtitles) or Red Psalm (definitely excellent transfer, but poor English subtitles) would be ideal.

But if you're desperate, then the Clavis Red Psalm is still worth it - you certainly get the gist, and the subtitles can always be turned off on subsequent viewings. It is not, to put it mildly, a film whose spoken content is essential to its appreciation - and this exhaustive Raymond Durgnat essay provides a ton of background.

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#112 Post by jsteffe » Mon Mar 24, 2008 4:41 pm

This is not strictly DVD-related, but there's a generous serving of clips from various Jancsó films on his own website. Click on the link "mozi" on the top of the page, and that takes you to a filmography. Most of the films have more than one clip. The entire site is in Hungarian, but it's not too hard to navigate. The streaming clips actually don't look bad.

MichaelB, I read your review of the Clavis DVD for "Psaume Rouge." I'm also puzzled--did DVD Beaver get hold of a corrected pressing somehow? Because my DVD also has yellow English subtitles with loads of errors.

The Clavis edition's French subtitles are largely better (more grammatical), not surprisingly, though in some cases the English translations are more detailed. If you read French well, they make for better viewing on the whole.

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Person
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#113 Post by Person » Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:35 pm

I'd love to see, Sirokkó (1969). It apparently consists of 12 long takes, a la Hitchcock's Rope, but with incredibly complex camera moves. Black and white, scope, deep focus. I'd probably be drooling, babbling mess after experiencing this one. =P~

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#114 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:58 pm

jsteffe wrote:MichaelB, I read your review of the Clavis DVD for "Psaume Rouge." I'm also puzzled--did DVD Beaver get hold of a corrected pressing somehow? Because my DVD also has yellow English subtitles with loads of errors.
Your guess is as good as mine - clearly, the screengrabs on the Beaver review are of a different disc from the one I received, as the subtitles on my copy couldn't have been more yellow. And if the disc was corrected, then why was Alapage still sending out error-strewn versions as recently as a fortnight ago?

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#115 Post by Barmy » Tue Mar 25, 2008 12:48 am

Person wrote:I'd love to see, Sirokkó (1969). It apparently consists of 12 long takes, a la Hitchcock's Rope, but with incredibly complex camera moves. Black and white, scope, deep focus. I'd probably be drooling, babbling mess after experiencing this one.
Sirocco (which is in color) is, I believe, Jancso's first use of extreme long takes throughout a particular film. A nice print screened in NYC during the mini-retro a year or so ago, without subtitles but with live translation.

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#116 Post by foggy eyes » Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:24 am

Yeah, Sirokkó sounds awesome. Vincent Canby notes in his NYT review that the film does indeed consist of 12 takes (I'm sure I've heard 13 cited elsewhere too - not that it really matters). Also, I haven't seen Electra, My Love yet, but John Cunningham claims in his book on Hungarian cinema that it also contains only twelve shots - is this correct? There are a few inaccuracies in the book, so I'm wondering whether the two films might have been confused. MichaelB's review of Elektra has made me as reluctant to shell out for the Facets release as I am enthusiastic to see the film - although it's probably time to bite the bullet.

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#117 Post by MichaelB » Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:37 am

foggy eyes wrote:Also, I haven't seen Electra, My Love yet, but John Cunningham claims in his book on Hungarian cinema that it also contains only twelve shots - is this correct? There are a few inaccuracies in the book, so I'm wondering whether the two films might have been confused.
I didn't count the shots myself, though a claim of twelve is entirely believable. Assuming Gideon Bachmann's account of the shooting is broadly accurate, there are eight principal takes, and my own viewing established a very small number of slightly briefer shots.
MichaelB's review of Elektra has made me as reluctant to shell out for the Facets release as I am enthusiastic to see the film - although it's probably time to bite the bullet.
To be honest, I'd bite the bullet - I'm very glad I've seen the film, and there's no current possibility of seeing it anywhere else. That said, I do have the luxury of an extremely favourable exchange rate, so Facets discs are relatively inexpensive for me (certainly vastly cheaper than the Clavis ones - ouch!)

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#118 Post by Barmy » Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:48 am

Wow Canby's review is pretty asinine. Why can't virtuoso camerawork and awesome cinematography be an end in itself? Oh, I guess we have to CARE about the characters in order for a film to be good. #-o :roll: :shock:

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#119 Post by MichaelB » Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:57 am

If you want asinine Jancsó reviews, this IMDB comment about Elektra takes some beating:
This movie lacks originality. The script is poor, the budget is probably less than that of a high school play, the costumes look horrendous, the performers are stiff as nails, the dialog is numb, the landscape is barren, the cinematography is amateur, the props look like they are about to fall apart, and the pace is slower than drying paint. It was made in 1974, but seems as though it was made in the 1940's and in someone's backyard.

Artsy Fartsy movie with too much fart and not enough art. If you are in the mood for an artsy fartsy movie, look elsewhere.

2/10 stars
Cinematographer János Kende should sue. Or at the very least ask 'Matt-441' to demonstrate how a real professional should shoot ten-minute takes with the camera constantly moving and reframing while keeping all the compositions immaculate and everything in focus, as he clearly knows so much more about it.

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#120 Post by foggy eyes » Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:27 am

Barmy wrote:Wow Canby's review is pretty asinine. Why can't virtuoso camerawork and awesome cinematography be an end in itself? Oh, I guess we have to CARE about the characters in order for a film to be good.
I thought that too. Whatever you do, don't read David Thomson's entry in his Biographical Dictionary of Film - he's astonishingly dismissive to an even greater degree, seemingly reaching the conclusion that Jancsó's style is essentially frivolous because it is not motivated by "ideas" - absolute codswallop.

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#121 Post by MichaelB » Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:29 am

foggy eyes wrote:seemingly reaching the conclusion that Jancsó's style is essentially frivolous because it is not motivated by "ideas"
:shock: :shock: :shock:

#-o

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#122 Post by zedz » Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:24 pm

MichaelB wrote:
foggy eyes wrote:seemingly reaching the conclusion that Jancsó's style is essentially frivolous because it is not motivated by "ideas"
:shock: :shock: :shock:

#-o
I second that emoticon. That position's wrong in almost every conceivable way.

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#123 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:23 am

Here is the last section of the Jancsó entry in Thomson's book:
This situation - of irrational authorities and hopeful revolutionists confronting one another in the open - has run through The Red and the White, The Confrontation, Agnus Dei and Red Psalm. The historical bases of these films seem very tenuous, less important than the chance to persist with the same visual ingredients - solemn girls, ominous riders, the sun on the plain and the extraordinary, balletic, mathematical behaviour of the camera. These films have very little speech, no character, and very opaque sequences of events. They do have an overwhelming camera sequence built on some of the most elaborate travelling shots in cinema. The shots are as beautiful and as blank as the slim, dark, half-naked girls in Red Psalm. But that is to talk of beauty in a way that reveals the gulf between prettiness and character. And when some critics came away from Winter Sirocco with the report that it has only thirteen shots, and from Red Psalm that it has but twenty-six, then I wonder whether fluid cinema has not become oppressively academic and premeditated.

The mechanical movements are the more disturbing in that Jancsó does have an eye for sudden revelations. There is no doubt about the poetic generalisations he can achieve with horses, sunshine, the river, riders, grass and his herded victims. What makes him seem cold-blooded and frivolous is the need to decorate his vision with senseless movement. When the camera does not move with a character, an emotion, or an idea then I fear it is impelled by a director's vanity.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#124 Post by foggy eyes » Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:32 pm

What makes him seem cold-blooded and frivolous is the need to decorate his vision with senseless movement. When the camera does not move with a character, an emotion, or an idea then I fear it is impelled by a director's vanity.
Thanks, Colin - this was the bit I was referring to, and I still find it mindboggling (something of a recurring reaction to Thomson's criticism). Senseless movement? Vanity? Give me a break.
And when some critics came away from Winter Sirocco with the report that it has only thirteen shots, and from Red Psalm that it has but twenty-six, then I wonder whether fluid cinema has not become oppressively academic and premeditated.
I have no idea what he's trying to get at here. Since when does paying attention to form make a director's style oppressively academic?

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#125 Post by Person » Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:56 pm

Barmy wrote:Sirocco (which is in color) is, I believe, Jancso's first use of extreme long takes throughout a particular film. A nice print screened in NYC during the mini-retro a year or so ago, without subtitles but with live translation.
You're right - it is in Agascope and color.

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