Firstly, a massive thank you to our Patreon supporters. Your generosity touches me deeply. These supporters have become the single biggest contributing factor to the survival of DVDBeaver. Your assistance has become essential.

 

What do Patrons receive, that you don't?

 

1) Our weekly Newsletter sent to your Inbox every Monday morning!
2)
Patron-only Silent Auctions - so far over 30 Out-of-Print titles have moved to deserved, appreciative, hands!
3) Access to over 20,000 unpublished screen captures in lossless high-resolution format!

 

Please consider keeping us in existence with a couple of dollars or more each month (your pocket change!) so we can continue to do our best in giving you timely, thorough reviews, calendar updates and detailed comparisons. Thank you very much.


 

Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Larks on a String' aka 'Skylarks on a String')

Directed by Jirí Menzel
Czechoslovakia 19
69

 

Shot in 1969, but banned by the Czech government until the fall of the Communist regime in 1990, Menzel s wry comic drama is a hymn to humanity and nonconformity. The film s principal characters are residents of a state-run junkyard / labour camp for those whose actions have been deemed counter-revolutionary . On one side of the yard live the men, most sent here for re-education. On the other side, are a group of women interned for the crime of attempted defection. Separately, the two groups lazily toil, sorting out piles of scrap metal (one huge pile is nothing less than a veritable mountain of crucifixes and religious icons); together, they flirt, philosophize, and occasionally sneak off behind the hillocks of slag to make love. Larks on a String is at once a stinging indictment of the repressive politics of Czechoslovakia's past, and an endearing comedy and affecting love story.

***

Shot in 1968, whilst Czechoslovakia enjoyed a brief moment of political liberalization, Larks on a String is a searing political satire from director Jirí Menzel and writer Bohumil Hrabal. Like their earlier Oscar-winning triumph Closely Observed Trains, it audaciously combines black humour with grim reality.

Set in a scrap metal yard where dissidents are interned to be ‘re-educated’, the film is both a powerful critique of totalitarianism and a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit. Promptly banned by the Communist regime, the film remained unseen until 1990, when it was released to great acclaim, winning the grand prize at the Berlin Film Festival. Now regarded as a lost masterpiece, Menzel's wry comic drama is a hymn to humanity and nonconformity.

Posters

Theatrical Release: 1969

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Second Run - Region 0 - PAL vs. Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Box Cover

 

Bonus Captures:

Distribution Second Run - Region 0 - PAL Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:30:24 (4% PAL Speedup      1:35:54.666
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.89 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.66:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 39,928,558,182 bytes

Feature: 29,415,837,696 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate DVD:

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0) 

LPCM Audio Czech 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Jirí Menzel: 7 Questions (9:32)
• 16-page booklet featuring and a new extended essay by author and film programmer Peter Hames and an introduction by DoP Jaromír Šofr

DVD Release Date: March 14th, 2011

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Second Run

 

1.66:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 39,928,558,182 bytes

Feature: 29,415,837,696 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Jirí Menzel: 7 Questions: an idiosyncratic reflection on the film and its history, shot by the late director in 2011. (10:01)
• Menzel in discussion with filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur (9:48)
• A newly-recorded Projection Booth audio commentary with Mike White and Jonathan Owen.
Our Dear Mister Foerster Died (Um el nám pan Foerster,1963): a restored early short film by Jirí Menzel. (15:24)
• Trailer (1:21)
20-page booklet featuring an essay by author Peter Hames and an introduction by cinematographer Jaromír Šofr.


Blu-ray Release Date:
July 18th, 2022
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Second Run Blu-ray (August 2022): Second Run have transferred Jirí Menzel's Larks on a String to Blu-ray. It is cited as being from a "New 4K restoration by the Czech National Film Archive".

Text screens inform us; "Digital restoration of this film funded from the donation of Mrs. Milada Kueerova and Mr. Eduard Kueera was carried out by Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in collaboration with the Narodni filmovy archiv, Prague and the Czech Film Fund in UPP and Soundsquare. This film was restored using the outputs of the NAKI DF13P010VV006 "Methodology of Digitising the National Film Fund in the Czech Republic" project.

Larks on a String was filmed in 1969. Although the filmmakers were forced to cut out several scenes, public screenings were banned nevertheless, and the film did not premiere until 1990. Previously cut scenes were returned for the film's premiere, and this version was used as the reference for the digital restoration.

The sources for the digitization were the original image negative and the original sound negative. Film materials are preserved by the Narodni filmovy archly, Prague. The restoration was done in 2021.
"

The upgraded 1080P is highly remarkable when compared to Second Run's own 2001 PAL DVD. The 1.78:1 SD transfer had artifacts and edge-enhancement (see sample below) as well as other digitization issues. We were just thankful to see the film back then. The new 4K-restored image is in 1.66:1 and shows more information in the frame - notable the top, right and bottom edges. Many speckles have been removed. It is much tighter - very impressive in spots - with a dramatic improvement in detail. The hue leans a shade green, with some heavy grays, but there is also depth in primaries (reds.) Flesh tones warms and there is occasional, pleasing depth. There isn't much grain support and this may have other, less severe, digitization issues (some softness) but the overall HD presentation is highly welcome. It's like seeing the film anew. One of the bigger upgrades we have seen in quite a long time.

NOTE: We have added 46 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Second Run use a linear PCM mono track (24-bit) in the original Czech language. Larks on a String has a few aggressive scrap-yard, steelwork-related, fire etc. sequences. The score is by Jirí Sust (Closely Watched Trains, Daisies etc. and who has composed for over 120 films.) It adds sly, often ironic, cues for sardonic humor and romance. Second Run offer optional English subtitles on their Region FREE Blu-ray.

The Second Run Blu-ray offers a newly-recorded 'Projection Booth' audio commentary with Mike White and Jonathan Owen who discuss the film's history, lack of availability, it's banning by the Czechoslovak government, the Bohumil Hrabal novel, the episodic nature of the film and much more. It has some excellent analysis. Second Run repeat the "Jirí Menzel: 7 Questions" 10-minute piece from their DVD that is an idiosyncratic reflection on the film and its history, shot by the late director in 2011. There is also a nine-minute piece of Menzel in discussion with filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur. Second Run include a restored early short film by Jirí Menzel from 1963; Our Dear Mister Foerster Died (Um el nám pan Foerster.) It runs just over 1/4 hour and focuses on childhood memories of Bohumil Hrabal living in his provincial hometown of Nymburk. Lastly, is a trailer and the package has a 20-page booklet featuring an essay by author Peter Hames and an introduction by cinematographer Jaromír Šofr.

Jirí Menzel's Larks on a String shows a group of bourgeois dissident characters forced to "re-education" by Czechoslovakia's repressive  communist government in the 1950s. They have to work in a scrap-yard but their humanity, connections - attractive women and tired, voyeuristic, men - and absurdities of the propaganda and leadership decisions that comically surface. There are positive themes of survival and finding joy and happiness in the face of nonsensical totalitarianism and tyranny - essentially using broad satire. Menzel deftly turns the pitifulness to humor. It's an important masterpiece now on Second Run's, World premiere, Blu-ray with significantly improved a/v, commentary and new extras, including booklet. It is very strongly recommended!

Gary Tooze

 


Menus / Extras

 

Second Run - Region 0 - PAL

 

Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL  TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL  TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL  TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL  TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL  TOP

2) Edge Enhancement Halo on DVD MIDDLE

3) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL  TOP

2) Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

More full resolution (1920 X 1080) Blu-ray Captures for DVDBeaver Patreon Supporters HERE

 

 
Box Cover

 

Bonus Captures:

Distribution Second Run - Region 0 - PAL Second Run - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

Hit Counter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

 CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!