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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Dragon's Return" aka "Drak sa vracia" )


directed by Eduard Grecner
Czechoslovakia 1968


Based on the novel by Dobroslav Chrobak, DRAGON'S RETURN on film is a folk tale written in the style of a Slovak school of literature that juxtaposed village existence with contemporary life to expose the fallacy that country life is pure and more genuine - and told by director Eduard Grecner in a modern, free-form cinematic style evocative of the French New Wave filmmakers he admired (particularly Alain Resnais by way of LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD). Years after he was banished from his home by the village committee, potter Dragon (Radovan Lukavský, THE GIRL WITH THREE CAMELS) returns but seemingly not in search of vengeance upon those scapegoated him for the drought (and already suspect him of causing the current one). After making his appearance known in the local pub where the mayor and village committee (busybodies who mostly push others towards actions through a constant muttering commentary) congregate, Dragon returns to his home and starts setting it order in addition to making his return "felt" by Simon (Gustáv Valach, SHADOWS OF A HOT SUMMER), one of the men who tried to burn down his cottage and would marry his love Eva (Emília Vásáryová, THE COPPER TOWER). When a forest fire breaks out in the area where the village's cattle are grazing (a catastrophe not blamed on Dragon but on the "women's sorcery" employed to bring rain), the haunting cries of the animals echo throughout the valley. Although the village committee decides it would be better to slaughter the cattle than to let them continue to suffer, Dragon offers to hike up into the forest and steer the cattle to safety, asking only in return to be able to live in the village and dig clay again. The mayor agrees to the offer, giving Dragon one week to return with the cattle or his cottage will be burnt to the ground. Wary that Dragon might turn the cattle over to smugglers along the Polish border - and also deciding that the animosity between Dragon (who earns back his Christian name Martin) and Simon cannot go unresolved - the committee decide that Simon must accompany be the one to accompany him (despite other willing volunteers). Throughout the journey, Simon regards all of Dragon's acts with suspicion. Although he is repeatedly proven wrong in his assumptions about Dragon, it is ultimately Simon's insecurity over his marriage to Eva that pushes him towards an act that assures that Dragon cannot return home again.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 10 May 1968 (Czechoslovakia)

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DVD Review: Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Second Run DVD

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:21:09 (4% PAL speedup)

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.27 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 Slovak Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
� Introduction by author Peter Hames (16:9; 22:17)
� Liner Notes Booklet by Jonathan Owen including an interview with director Eduard Grecner

DVD Release Date: August 24th, 2015

Chapters 12





Restored from a new high-definition master, Second Run's high-bitrate, dual-layer, anamorphic widescreen DVD represents the textures and contrasts of the monochrome cinematography nicely in standard definition given its reliance on long-lens photography in which the actors are sometimes the only element in sharp focus (the cinematography has a similar rough-hewn look to Alain Robbie-Grillet's THE MAN WHO LIES with which it shares the same Slovak production company). The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is clean and crisp, accentuating the unnerving score which incorporates choral passages and village whispers alongside minimalist instrumental accompaniment.

Video extras consist solely of an introduction by Peter Hames in which he discusses director Grecner's position preceding the Czech/Slovak New Wave - his collaborations with Stefan Uher (including the masterful THE SUN IN A NET on which he served as assistant director and gathered sound elements for the score), the director's interest in folk culture as well as his own philosophy of "film as free verse" and his debt to Truffaut, Godard, and Resnais, as well as the political aspects of the tale. The use of telephoto lenses and shallow focus which foregrounds the actors in the composition was initially not a stylistic choice but a way to better disguise the artificiality of the sound stage scenes.

A booklet is also included that features an essay by Jonathan Owen in which he covers some of the same topics but also includes discussion of the source novel as well as the film's juxtaposition of Christian and pagan motifs and the film's scoring. The booklet also includes a short interview with Grecner about his attraction to the source novel and development of it going back to his time as a student in the fifties.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Second Run DVD

Region 0 - PAL



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