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Pearls of the Czech New Wave

 

Pearls of the Deep (1966)         Daisies (1966)        A Report on the Party and Guests(1966)


Return of the Prodigal Son (1967)      Capricious Summer (1968)      The Joke (1969)

 

Of all the cinematic New Waves that broke over the world in the 1960s, the one in Czechoslovakia was among the most fruitful, fascinating, and radical. With a wicked sense of humor and a healthy streak of surrealism, a group of fearless directors—including eventual Oscar winners Miloš Forman and Ján Kadár—began to use film to speak out about the hypocrisy and absurdity of the Communist state. A defining work was the 1966 omnibus film Pearls of the Deep, which introduced five of the movement’s essential voices: Věra Chytilová, Jaromil Jireš, Jiří Menzel, Jan Němec, and Evald Schorm. This series presents that title, along with five other crucial works that followed close on its heels, one from each of those filmmakers—some dazzlingly experimental, some arrestingly realistic, all singular expressions from a remarkable time and place.

Titles


Pearls of the Deep
Jiří Menzel, Věra Chytilová, Jaromil Jireš… 1966
A manifesto of sorts for the Czech New Wave, this five-part anthology shows off the breadth of expression and the versatility of the movement’s directors. Based on stories by the legendary writer Bohumil Hrabal, the shorts range from the surreally chilling to the caustically observant to the casually romantic, but all have a cutting, wily view of the world.

Daisies
Věra Chytilová 1966
Maybe the New Wave’s most anarchic entry, Věra Chytilová’s absurdist farce follows the misadventures of two brash young women. Believing the world to be “spoiled,” they embark on a series of pranks in which nothing—food, clothes, men, war—is taken seriously. Daisies is an aesthetically and politically adventurous film that’s widely considered one of the great works of feminist cinema.

A Report on the Party and Guests
Jan Němec 1966
In Jan Němec’s surreal fable, a picnic is rudely transformed into a lesson in political hierarchy when a handful of mysterious authority figures show up. This allegory about oppression and conformity was banned in its home country but became an international success after it premiered at the New York Film Festival.

Return of the Prodigal Son
Evald Schorm 1967
Evald Schorm was one of the most politically outspoken of the Czech New Wave filmmakers. This raw psychological drama about an engineer unable to adjust to the world around him following his suicide attempt is at heart a scathing portrait of social alienation and moral compromise.

Capricious Summer
Jiří Menzel 1968
Two years after his worldwide hit Closely Watched Trains, Jiří Menzel directed this amusing idyll about three middle-aged men whose mellow summer is interrupted by the arrival of a circus performer and his beautiful assistant. A meditation on aging and sex, shot in warm, sun-dappled color, Capricious Summer is one of the New Wave’s loveliest reveries.

The Joke
Jaromil Jireš 1969
Jaromil Jireš’s brilliant adaptation of Milan Kundera’s novel tells the fragmentary tale of a man expelled from the Communist Party because of a political joke. After “rehabilitation” in the mines and a stint in prison, he hatches a revenge plot against the former friend who betrayed him. Made near the end of the Czech New Wave, The Joke is acknowledged as one of its greatest works.

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1966 - 1969

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse Series Thirty Two from the Criterion Collection (4-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 1:47:12, 1:16:12, 1:10:36, 1:43:00, 1:16:36, and 1:20:54
Bitrate: Disc 1 Pearls of the Deep
Bitrate: Disc 2 - Daisies + A Report on the Party and Guests
Bitrate: Disc 3 Return of the Prodigal Son
Bitrate: Disc 4 Capricious Summer + The Joke
Audio Czech (original mono)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

  •  one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case


DVD Release Date:
April 24th, 2012
4 Slim Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 6 features are on 4 discs housed in individual slim transparent keep cases they are not sold separately by Criterion at this time. We have compared two of the films (Daisies + A Report on the Party and Guests) to the PAL - Second Run editions.

All four DVDs are dual-layered and each are coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. The transfers are all progressive, except for Capricious Summer  which is, surprisingly, interlaced (see capture), and all are in the 1.33 aspect ratio.

 

Disc one has Pearls of the Deep (1966)

Disc two has Daisies (1966) + A Report on the Party and Guests (1966)
Disc three has Return of the Prodigal Son (1967)
Disc four has Capricious Summer (1968) + The Joke (1969)

The audio is in original Czech mono and there are optional English subtitles (samples below).

Bitrates are very strong ranging from from in the high 6's to 8.2 Mbps.

Aside from one page liner notes for each film (visible on the inner case sleeve through the transparent case cover) there are no supplements as per standard for Eclipse label releases.

Video quality is pretty solid with the interlacing of Capricious Summer as the only drawback. There may be hints of boosting but this also may be a function of the sources used. Comparing the Eclipse Daisies to the Second Run - the UK transfer looks a shade horizontally stretched - only really noticeable in direct comparison. Ditto, to a lesser degree, for A Report on the Party and Guests. Criterion's black levels are a more prominent but both pair of releases support the films with the same colors and nothing appears to be significantly cropped from either frame. Pearls of the Deep may be the weakest with a more frail image and some light frame-specific scratches - often looking too bright. Capricious Summer is all in color with Daisies also in color having some black and white sequences. Pearls has a couple of instances of color but the rest of the film is in black and white. The Joke probably looks the best - and all 6 films shows some degree of grain.       

The sound is original mono is as clean as the original source could provide. Dialogue is clear enough and audible - I noted a no instances of pops, or other glaring weaknesses. The Czech language has a slightly different translation from the Second Run DVD subtitles but nothing varying significantly from the Eclipse's renditions.

The Mission Statement description on the back of the boxset remains faithful: "Eclipse is a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions. Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer."

It was a pleasure to revisit Daisies and A Report on the Party and Guests plus the other 4 - which were all new for me. Capricious Summer and The Joke are brilliant films worth of revisitation and Pearls of the Deep is impacting and masterful.

This package has immense value - 6 strong Czech New Wave films offered at a reasonable price (less than $9/film). The transfers offer solid presentations and getting them in own package makes it an important set. I would strongly recommend this at anyone interested in world cinema. This is another essential Eclipse package.  

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus



Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Daisies

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 


Screen Captures

 

A Report on Party and Guests

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 

(Second Run - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Eclipse - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

Capricious Summer

 

Combing - Interlaced transfer

 

The Joke

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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