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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Valerie and Her Week of Wonders" )

directed by Jaromil Jires
Czechoslovakia 1970

This fantastical and somewhat inscrutable allegory took me by surprise. I'd heard mostly good things about it over the years, but was unprepared for its lovely ethereal nature and its ravishing imagery. The story, such as it is, is of secondary importance to the dream-like visuals that comprise each scene.

Valerie's first period is the catalyst for a dream/nightmare adventure that involves vampirism, incest, treachery, soul-robbing, and gentle eroticism. What in the end has been said, I'm not sure, but it's a wonderful experience.

Donald Brown

Poster

 

Theatrical Release: 1970

Reviews                                                                   More Reviews                                                                  DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Facets - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Second Run - Region 0 - PAL vs. Redemption - Region 0 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Donald Brown for the Facets and Redemption DVD Screen Caps!

 

1) Facets - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - SECOND

3) Redemption - Region 0 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

  

Distribution

Facets

Region 0 - NTSC

Second Run
Region 0 - PAL
Redemption
Region 0 - PAL
Criterion Collection - Spine #761 - Region 'A' Blu-ray
Runtime 1:13:27 (4% PAL speedup) 1:13:18 (4% PAL speedup) 1:12:12 (4% PAL speedup) 1:17:00.616
Video

1.31:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.45 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.1 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.50 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 42,124,098,791 bytes

Feature: 22,652,295,168 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.90 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

 

Facets

 

Bitrate:

 

Second Run

 

Bitrate:

 

Redemption

 

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

 

Audio Czech - Dolby Digital 2.0 Czech - Dolby Digital 2.0

Czech - Dolby Digital 2.0

LPCM Audio Czech 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English (burned in) English, none English (burned in) English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Facets

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.31:1

Edition Details:
• (De) Flower Power - Maze by Rick Trembles

DVD Release Date: January 13, 2004
Keepcase

Chapters 14
 

Release Information:
Studio: Redemption

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with Jaroslava Schallerová (5:46)
• Introduction by Michael Brooke (20:06)
• Trailer (2:27)

 

DVD Release Date: August 25th, 2008
Transparent Keepcase

Chapters 10

Release Information:
Studio: Redemption

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.30:1

Edition Details:
• Stills gallery
• Video art
• Filmography

 

DVD Release Date: June 14, 2004
Keepcase

Chapters 9

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

 1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 42,124,098,791 bytes

Feature: 22,652,295,168 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.90 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Three early shorts by director Jaromil Jireš: Uncle (1959 - 6:07), Footprints (1960 - 12:18), and The Hall of Lost Footsteps (1960)
New interview with Czechoslovak film scholar Peter Hames (15:54)
Interviews from 2006 with actors Jaroslava Schallerová (15:54) and Jan Klusák (5:48)
Alternate 2007 psych-folk soundtrack to the film by the Valerie Project, with a new video piece on the music’s origins (1:17:00 + 15:28)
PLUS: An essay by critic Jana Prikryl

Blu-ray Release Date: June 30th, 2015
Transparent Keep case
Chapters: 20

 

 

 

Comments

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray May 15': Criterion's new 1080P transfer of the restoration of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders looks impressive. Detail significantly tightens, there is more information in the frame and it is the only release of the 4 that is in theatrical (NTSC) running time. The static screen captures indicate the level of advancement.

Audio is transferred via a liner PCM track mono track at 1152 kbps. There are some action effects but mostly apparent is the score by Lubos Fiser and Jan Klusák - sounding excellent via the lossless. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A'-locked Blu-ray.

Criterion include some great supplements. They include three early shorts by director Jaromil Jireš: Uncle (1959 - 6:07), Footprints (1960 - 12:18), and The Hall of Lost Footsteps (1960). They anticipate the formal and stylistic experimentation that would characterize Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. We get a new 16-minute interview (conducted by Criterion in 2015) with Czechoslovak film scholar Peter Hames author of Czech and Slovak Cinema: Theme and Tradition. He unlocks the surreal charms of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. There are also interviews from 2006 with actors Jaroslava Schallerová who reminisces about her iconic role in Valerie and Her Week of Wonders and Jan Klusák offers an unusually candid account of his experiences making the film. Both interview were conducted by Pavel Kfemen. included is an alternate 2007 psych-folk soundtrack to the film by the Valerie Project, with a new 1/2 hour video piece on the music’s origins with Joseph A. Gervasi and Greg Weeks were they discuss the film and their inspiration to create an alternate soundtrack. The package contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Jana Prikryl.

What a fabulous choice for Criterion to bring to Blu-ray. A brilliant, unforgettable and stylish film that deserves the absolute best a/v representation for your home theatre. The extensive extras add further value and we give it our strongest recommendation!

***

ADDITION: Second Run - Region 0 PAL - I have a few observations - Firstly, we can throw out the lackluster single-layered, artifact-ridden Facets from these comments. I concur with Donald on the damage of the Redemption but I can see it is notably removed by the Second Run restoration. Detail might lean to the Redemption but that issues' scratches, speckles and marks can be distracting to say the least. I lean to the Second Run for color accuracy as both other look boosted to some degree - not having seen it theatrically I can't be 100% positive on this point. THE SR is brighter and a bit greenish at times (sign of a failing telecine?) and is a bit cropped on the top edge.

The Redemption subtitles are burned-in where they are removable (and large and much clearer) on the Second Run. Finally the Second Run easily wins the extras with a 5 minute interview with lead Jaroslava Schallerová (with optional subtitles) and an informative 20 minute introduction, with inserted clips, by Michael Brooke. It's a pleasure to listen (and see) - of which he does a very good job relating some hidden details of Valerie and her Week of Wonders. It may have been prudent to add optional subs to this extra as well as Michael is a bit quiet and has a gentle British accent. There is also a trailer and a 20-page liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by film programmer and author Peter Hames and an appreciation by Joseph A. Gervasi of Exhumed Films.

The film is a must-see. As Jonathan Rosenbaum says at the Chicago Reader HERE: "I only recently caught up with Jaromil Jires's overripe 1970 exercise in Prague School surrealism, now that it's become available again, and I'm miffed that I had to wait so long. The 13-year-old title heroine, who's just had her first period, traipses through a shifting landscape of sensuous, anticlerical, and vaguely medieval fantasy-horror enchantments that register more as a collection of dream adventures, spurred by guiltless and polysexual eroticism, than as a conventional narrative. Virtually every shot is a knockout--for comparable use of color, you'd have to turn to some of Vera Chytilova's extravaganzas of the same period, such as Daisies and Fruit of Paradise. If you aren't too anxious about decoding what all this means, you're likely to be entranced."

Thanks to Second Run for their restoration and competent dual-layered package of this Czech gem. Recommended - despite its imperfections!

P.S. It is presently cheaper than the Redemption as well! 

Gary Tooze   

 

***

ON THE FACETS AND REDEMPTION: Neither one of these DVDs looks very good. The Facets disc is a poor PAL-to-NTSC transfer that looks like it was made from a video tape, and suffers from excessive ringing and a very soft image. The Region 2 disc is much sharper and has better color, but suffers more print damage, especially early on in the film. There's an ungodly amount tramlines and scratches that don't show up on the Facets DVD, but they lessen a bit as the film progresses. The R2 disc is occasionally quite dark; the worst example can be seen in the 2nd set of screen captures below, which is horrible, but the rest of the DVD isn't nearly so bad. On the other hand, the Facets sometimes seems too bright, with detail lost in the highlights.

All in all, the Redemption DVD looks better, but it may not be worth buying if you already own the Facets edition.

 - Donald Brown

 

 



DVD Menus

 

Second Run - Region 0 - PAL

 



(Facets - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Redemption - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Samples  - NOT exact frame!

 

1) Facets - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - SECOND

3) Redemption - Region 0 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Screen Captures

 

1) Facets - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - SECOND

3) Redemption - Region 0 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Facets - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - SECOND

3) Redemption - Region 0 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Facets - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - SECOND

3) Redemption - Region 0 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Facets - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - SECOND

3) Redemption - Region 0 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Facets - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - SECOND

3) Redemption - Region 0 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Facets - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Second Run - Region 0 - PAL - SECOND

3) Redemption - Region 0 - PAL - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 

Box Covers

 

  

Distribution

Facets

Region 0 - NTSC

Second Run
Region 0 - PAL
Redemption
Region 0 - PAL
Criterion Collection - Spine #761 - Region 'A' Blu-ray


 


 

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...