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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Sekal Has to Die aka "Je treba zabít Sekala" [Blu-ray]


(Vladimír Michálek , 1998)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Apple Film Productions

Video: Magic Box



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:54:24.458

Disc Size: 24,439,202,684 bytes

Feature Size: 24,146,233,344 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.42 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 24 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Czech 2211 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2211 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English, Czech, none








Description: During the hot summer of 1943 in the devoutly Catholic Moravian village of Lakotice (Czech for "stingy"), it falls to the new stranger, Protestant blacksmith Baran (the word for "ram"), to rid the town of Nazi collaborator and unrepentent bastard Sekal (which means "he was cutting"). Following his lauded 1996 drama Forgotten Light, director Vladimir Michalek continues his symbolic yet restrained probing of religion, complicity and betrayal in a rural setting, with the unexpected but triumphant addition of formal genre elements (gorgeous vistas, calibrated performances) straight out of Shane or early Clint Eastwood. "Evil has no weak spots," says the town's conflicted priest before the ritualized and inevitable finale, and neither does this provocative, masterful exploration of faith under stress -- the Czech Republic's official Oscar submission -- from one of the country's most accomplished contemporary filmmakers.

Excerpt from Nitrate Online located HERE


The Film:

With a thoughtful script, elegiac lensing, a masterful music score and a triumvirate of exquisite performances, this Central European “High Noon” gave Czech helmer Vladimir Michalek to turn out a first-class wartime morality drama.

Excerpt from Variet located HERE

Sekal Must Die is a 1998 film coproduction based on Vladimir Michalek's story and screenplay. It won 10 Czech Lion film award and the Czech cinematography was represented in the race for an Oscar.

The film begins with the arrival of Wallachian blacksmith Jury Baran (Olaf Lubaszenko) to Lakotic, a village in Hana, where he needs to hide from the Gestapo (a letter of recommendation to the local mayor). Because of his evangelical faith by the local landlords take quite hostile. Baran soon realizes ratios in the village - farmers live in fear of the informer Ivan Sekal (Boguslaw Linda), which receives the occupants arrested Grunty neighbors. Farmers decide to use Baranov difficult situation (letter from the mayor knows where to hide his wife and daughter) and blackmail to force him to murder. Meanwhile, it turns out that Sekalova monstrosity stems from humiliation, which he received in childhood for bastardy. In a knife fight Baran Sekal actually kills himself, however, is seriously wounded. The peasants refuse to render assistance to him and let him die.

Excerpt translated from located HERE

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

Sekal Has To Die appears quite impressive on region FREE Blu-ray from Europe. I believe this film has never been released anywhere else outside the Czech Republic/Slovakia. The image quality shows excellent contrast. Kudos to the film's impressive cinematography. It is housed on a single-layered disc and supportive bitrate for the 2-hour film. It is 1080P with no excessive glossy nor is pristinely sharp but shows frequent depth and I would guess the 1.85:1 aspect ratio provides a strong replication of the original theatrical appearance. This Blu-ray appears to do its job well with noise, artifacts, digital manipulation of unforgivable flaws of any kind. Thumbs up.






















Audio :

The audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 2211 kbps - 16 in the Czech language. While this was co-produced with Poland, Slovakia (and France) they did not include Polish soundtrack option – 2 of the leads are Polish actors and they spoke Polish on set/in the movie – so Czech version is overdubbed (lead actors only). I have been told that the Polish soundtrack option was only available on the first, now very out-of-print Czech DVD release. There are only a handful of more demonstrative effects in the film - all dealing with violence. Some of the horses and other sounds do reach the rear speakers, but I wouldn't say the audio track is stellar although it does impart some reasonable bass. Part of the film's beauty is in the score by Michal Lorenc which adds significantly to the atmosphere. There are both optional English or Czech subtitles available on the region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide. I would say the English translations are serviceable with out undue errors although there may be a grammar faux-pas here and there.



Extras :

The only extra is a superfluous photo gallery. No liner notes.



Sekal has To Die is a very good film - and follows the American western genre motif - hero, villain, passive influenced townspeople, a love interest and a showdown or sorts. It is quite a beautifully shot production with a similarly impressive score. This is brooding film with heavy expectations of conflict - macho-leaning. I was surprised by the Blu-ray's adeptness - certainly worth picking up despite its essentially bare-bones status. 

Gary Tooze

June 1st, 2015


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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