(aka 'All Good Citizens' or 'All My Compatriots' or 'All My Good Countrymen' or 'Vsichni dobří rodáci')

Directed by Vojtech Jasny
Czechoslovakia 19
68

 

Synopsis: Following the socialization of Czechoslovakia in 1948, a series of magical and humorous events happen to various residents of a small Moravian village. Director Vojtech Jasny, called "the spiritual father of the Czech New Wave" by Milos Forman, fled Czecholslovakia following the... Following the socialization of Czechoslovakia in 1948, a series of magical and humorous events happen to various residents of a small Moravian village. Director Vojtech Jasny, called "the spiritual father of the Czech New Wave" by Milos Forman, fled Czecholslovakia following the completion of this film. It was also one of the last films completed in the country prior to the Russian invasion in 1968.

***

One of the wonders of the Czech New Wave, All My Good Countrymen is also one of the least-known films from this miraculous era of Czech filmmaking. The reason is obvious: completed barely before the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, it was immediately banned and never shown. Despite this, the film won the Special Jury Prize of the Cannes Film Festival, and stylistically is a work of great lyricism, humor and originality. It weaves magical--and very funny--stories about a group of characters in a small Moravian village, immediately following the socialization of Czechoslovakia in 1948. "The film and the milieu it so precisely evokes are not so much nostalgic as they are powerfully remembered and irrevocably lost....All My Good Countrymen reflects the curdled fury of a former true believer" (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice)

Poster

Theatrical Release: August 4th, 1985 - USA

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DVD Review: FACETS - Region 0 - NTSC

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Distribution FACETS Video - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:54:44 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.29 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

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

Bitrate:

Audio Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English (burned-in)
Features

Release Information:
Studio: FACETS

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Interview with director Vojtech Jasny (23:37)
• Restoration comparison (1:54)
• Facets Cine-Notes 24-page liner notes booklet

DVD Release Date: August 26th, 200
8
Keep Case
Chapters: 11

 

Comments:

The film was banned in communist Czechoslovakia and the only print thought to be in existence was in the Czech National Archive. It was, unfortunately, damaged with a severe scratch throughout the entire film. Sometime later a German edition of the film surfaced and this Facets DVD is the amalgamation of the best qualities of those two available prints. 

Technically this FACETS disc is dual-layered but appears to be from an unconverted PAL source (with a European edition I've seen reviewed - with no Eng. subs - listed at 1:54:54). Either that or this edition of All My Good Countrymen is interlaced transferred... or it simply could be both. The result is that 'combing' is prevalent (see last large capture) but I don't recall ever viewing a Facets DVD that didn't have this phenomenon so I was expectantly prepared to see this digital weakness.

Aside from those prevalent artifacts the image is reasonably acceptable with heavy black levels (look to have been boosted) and moderate detail. Colors are not vibrant but support adequate differentiation. It looks as though these may have had some digital enhancement but it is not extensively done so as to appear to be an obvious manipulation. There are some speckles and light scratches here and there. I guess the bottom line is that it is flawed but a notch above what I have seen from Facets in the past. It is watchable although not in pristine form - both the transfer and the source have some weaknesses. It looks like a high-end VHS port to digital.

Audio is 2.0 channel in Czech and has the same limitations as the video. Dialogue is audible and hiss and other inconsistencies are fairly minimal. The subtitles are burned-in (sample below) - making another unfortunate black-mark. On my system they seemed to stay on screen a shade longer than was necessary.

Extras consist of a very nice 24-minute interview with director Vojtech Jasny in anamorphic widescreen (but also interlaced). His gentle demeanor is easily discernable and his words carry much weight. I don't know when this was shot but he must be over 90 years-old now. He talks of the banning, production length etc and his English is 'good enough' but his accent may give some trouble and subtitles would have been appreciated. Regardless, this is an excellent addition to the DVD. There is also about 1.5 minutes on the restoration with some split-screen comparisons - before and after. Perhaps the best attribute though is the 24-page liner notes booklet (Facets Cine-Notes) with an introduction reprinted from Novy Film - a 60's Czech journal, and two enlightening essays by Susan Doll. There are also some black and white photos interspersed in the text.       

Perhaps the greatest virtue of this DVD is that I believe it is the only English-friendly edition of this film available... anywhere. It is essential cinema for anyone with even remote interest in the Czech New Wave and although I critique the Facets transfer - it is still wonderful to have and own this film on the versatile disc format. All My Good Countrymen has been rarely seen over the years and it truly deserves to be exposed - hopefully this format will expand the audience although Facets price is at the high end - but surely this film experience is worth every penny in this reviewers opinion. 

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Subtitle Sample

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


Visible combing/ghosting...
 

 


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Distribution FACETS Video - Region 0 - NTSC




 

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