(aka 'Romeo, Juliet and Darkness' or 'Sweet Light in a Dark Room')
Jiří Weiss, born in
Prague’s German-speaking Jewish community, had twice been forced to flee from
his homeland. The first time was in 1939, when the German army marched into
Czechoslovakia. Originally an award-winning documentary filmmaker, Weiss fled to
Paris and then on to London. He worked there with the Crown Film Unit and later
documented the war years in films such as The Rape Of Czechoslovakia (1940) and
Before the Raid (1943), which was about a group of Norwegian fishermen facing
the Nazi occupation of their small village.
Weiss returned to Prague after the end of the war. The Wolf Trap (1957) was his first major feature film, won the Critics Prize at the 1957 Venice Film Festival, and established him as a key figure in Czechoslovakia’s burgeoning post-war cinema. Set in the 1920s and against the backdrop of bourgeois respectability, it centres on an orphaned young woman taken in by a small-town mayor and his older wife. A study of frustration and denial, the film is distinguished by Weiss’ distinctive cinematic language.
Romeo, Juliet and Darkness came in 1969 and enhanced his reputation even further, winning the Grand Prix at both the San Sebastian and Taormina Film Festivals that year.
Theatrical Release: September 28th, 1962
DVD Review: Second Run - Region 0 - PAL
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|Distribution||Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL|
Average Bitrate: 5.59 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||Czech (Dolby Digital mono)|
The single-layered, non-progressively transferred image is quite weak - most likely coming from a faded analog source. As stated on the Second Run website: "This 1960 film has been digitally re-mastered and newly subtitled from the best existing source available to us. However, due to the age and condition of the source master, there remain visual 'noise' imperfections which could not be removed without affecting the integrity of the entire film.". We appreciate the forthrightness and the description is accurate. The transfer shows some digital artifacts, limitations in contrast and similar inconsistencies in the audio but it is certainly watchable. There is a stills gallery and a liner notes booklet.
The DVD inferiorities didn't take away from my enjoyment of the film, which I suspect may look as good as it ever will on a digital source. There is a Facets VHS available and it probably looks and sounds correspondingly inferior. The film walks a tightrope of subtitles with a foreboding and harrowing impact. Certainly cineophiles will reap the benefits of a viewing. Recommended but just be prepared for the transfer quality.