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Jiri Barta: Labyrinth of Darkness [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Oldrich Kaiser , Jirí Lábus , Jirí Barta    DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Oldrich Kaiser, Jirí Lábus, Michal Pavlícek, Vilém Cok, Frantisek Husák
  • Directors: Jirí Barta
  • Writers: Jirí Barta, Kamil Pixa, Viktor Dyk, Václav Mergl
  • Format: Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Kimstim
  • DVD Release Date: 12 Sep 2006
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GTJS9E
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 127,591 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Labyrinth Of Darkness ~ Labyrinth Of Darkness


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven, but with some great animation pieces 2 Nov 2011
By K. Gordon TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
7 very different animated shorts. Some brilliant in their storytelling, others a
little dull. But all are visual striking and very inventive, with multiple
styles of animation on display

(my ratings are out of 4 stars)

`Riddles for a Candy' (1978)**3/4 8 min.
Funny, playful, but I couldn't quite follow what it meant. More traditional
animation than the other shorts, as a weird character tries to answer riddles,
but the riddles, at least as translated, don't make much sense.

`The Disc Jockey' (1980)**3/4 10 min.
Everything in the short is circular, in the shape of a record, each morphing
into each other. Interesting visually, but doesn't add up to a lot.

`The Vanished World of Gloves' (1982) ***1/4 (16 min)
The history of cinema from silent slapstick comedy, to Fellini, through modern
sci-fi blockbusters all acted out by gloves (?!?). Very weird, not every moment
works but a lot of it is very funny and entertaining.

`A Ballad About Green Wood' (1983 )**3/4 8 min.
A confusing little fairy tale about a log of green wood split into pieces and having
adventures while being transmogrified into different forms. Pretty, with some
interesting underlying themes of death and rebirth, but doesn't quite all hang together.

`The Pied Piper of Hamlin' (1986)**1/2 53 minutes.
Generally considered Barta's best film, I respectfully disagree. I appreciate the
beauty of the woodblock carvings Barta creates here, as well as the wooden world
that surrounds them. And I like his darker re-telling of the story, making it even
more blatantly about greed, and more to the point that the people themselves are
the rats.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark animation 15 Oct 2009
Format:DVD
I bought this one because it was recommended to me by the amazon recommendation engine based on me enjoying Svankmajer and the Quay brothers. This was a good catch and I would also recommend this to you if you have this kind of taste.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INFORMATION NOW! (Review to follow) 31 Aug 2006
By Lacrimatorium - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Since Amazon doesn't seem to know what it's got this is straight from the horses mouth... Review after release

Includes the legendary animated film The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Revered as one of the world's most significant figures in animation, Czech filmmaker Jiri Barta has made a career fashioning stunningly gothic worlds of horror and fantasy that are infused with sublime humor and intense moral examinations. Mixing the aesthetic traditions of such artists as Gaudi, Kafka, Poe, Fritz Lang, The Brothers Quay and Jan Svankmajer, Barta's films are wondrous creations that go far beyond mere children's tales.

His early paper cut-out extravaganzas-Disc Jockey (1980) and The Design (1981)-give way to the object ballet of A Ballad about Green Wood (1983), in which logs celebrate the eternal renaissance of spring. Old mannequins spend their cracked and broken lives In the Club of the Laid Off (1989), and myriad styles of handwear spring to life as a brief history of international cinema in the award-winning The Vanished World of Gloves (1982). Barta's international reputation was cemented with The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1985), a very un-Disney adaptation of the classic German fairytale in which carved wooden puppets in a gothic cubist town are plagued by live rats. Considered one of the greatest works of puppet animation, it recalls the dark medieval epics of Ingmar Bergman. His only live action film, The Last Theft (1987), is a jewel thief/vampire flick shot in the style of 1970s European exploitation cinema.

Working mostly from the prestigious animation studio founded by the legendary Jiri Trnka, Barta's works have been criminally overlooked in the U.S. Kimstim is proud to present all eight of Jiri Barta's films, available for the first time together on one DVD.

* A Ballad About Green Wood

11 minutes, color, 1983

* The Club of the Laid Off

25 minutes, color, 1989

* The Design

6 minutes, color, , 1981

* Disc Jockey

10 minutes, color, 1980

* The Last Theft

* 21 minutes, color, 1987

* The Pied Piper of Hamelin

55 minutes, color, 1985

* Riddles For a Candy

8 minutes, color, 1978

* The Vanished World of Gloves

16 minutes, color, 1982

Critical Acclaim

"Extraordinary... Barta creates a gothic never-was world caught somewhere between Gaudí and Kafka, Caligari and Svankmajer."- TIME OUT
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best stop animation EVER 30 Mar 2008
By wiredweird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
What it is that makes Czech animators so brilliant? There was Jiri Trnka, back in the day, Jan Svankmajer redefining the medium, and now Jiri Barta. This collection simply must be on the shelves of anyone who truly enjoys stop animation.

The eight pieces presented range from six minutes to 55. All of them are clever and well done, even if 'The Last Theft' and 'Disc Jockey' aren't really stop animation. The two longest pieces deserve the most attention, however. I had seen 'The Club of the Laid Off' before. It presents a crumbling warehouse where unwanted mannikins are sent to be forgotten, but take lives of their own. The forced cheer painted onto their immobile faces amid decay, their own included, cast a creepy spell over the whole twenty-five minutes, as did their deliberate and inaccurate humanity - they were, after all, created to display human clothes. Even their anatomically-innacurate nudity reinforced their pathetic poverty. Their ineffectual tries at normalcy just displayed a poverty of soul, too, opening the question of which creations deserve to have souls.

The best by far was the "Pied Piper of Hamelin." At nearly an hour, this sustained effort in stop-animation is an achievement in sheer endurance if nothing else - at 25 or 30 hand-crafted frames per second, an hour is a long time. But it offers more than that. The Pied Piper plot looms darker than any other I've seen. Without being "adult" in any way, this is certainly not one for the kiddies. But, even if the plotting and characterization didn't meet the highest standards already, the crafting of puppets and sets would still make this one of the best on record. The puppets might look equally at home as gargoyles on a medieval cathedral, as demons from a seventeenth century woodcut, or as wood-carving in a tradition of craftmanship that still exists in modern Germany. If anything, the sets surpass the puppets in evoking a European city of the 1600s, and still carry a rubbery surreality that positions this town firmly in dreamland. I don't know what's usually considered the best in stop animation, but if it's not this, then someone had better have very good evidence to back up their claim.

-- wiredweird
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazon Recommends II: Jiri Barta -- Labyrinth of Darkness 8 Nov 2008
By PolarisDiB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Hello again from this imaginary aisle of the abstract retail market.

Well it's easy to see why Amazon.com recommended this to me, considering the above-average amount of short film collections I own and my own interests in animation. I remember seeing this Jiri Barta collection at work once and was really curious about it, and it was nice to have the incentive to get around to watching it. I have to admit a lack of previous knowledge around this otherwise cult-followed, Svankmajer compatriot Czech animator, but it's been a wonderful adventure learning about him.

While Barta gets a lot of comparison to Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay (as well as Jiri Trnka, whom I've not yet gotten the opportunity to research), his movies are a lot looser, playful, and modernistic, sometimes to a fault. The collection of films on this set actually range through quite a lot of different moods and styles while always maintaining a clear sense of wit. At worst, some of the pieces can seem like Barta lost track of what he was starting and decided to just change it all -- rather difficult to do in animation when it takes so much time -- and at best it's perversely unpredictable fun.

I can see why "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" is his most famous work, as it fully realizes the very nature of fairy tale telling into graphic form, so that even in its most unique moments it seems direly, perversely familiar. It was very enjoyable and mesmerizing. My other favorite is the live-action "The Last Theft", mostly because it hits its gothic notes right on queue for some fun-loving morbid hilarity. The shifting tinting on the film is likewise mesmerizing, though what really scores that short points is the way in which even when things go right for the character, it all feels so perversely wrong.

The rest of the shorts are all really good, though sometimes I simply didn't care for them. "A Ballad about Green Wood" seemed almost directionless (it pulls together at the end); "Disc Jockey", though interesting in its primary shapes scheme, seemed too commercial--a real joke considering it and other shorts make a lot of fun of commercialism. Though what is a real surprise in these shorts, considering that when most people think "Czech animation" they think of fever dreams and mythic things, is just how willing Barta is to throw in 80s pop culture into the mix. Thus you get an interesting post-modern mix of the dream-scape sensibilities of that stop-motion movement mixed with a real tongue-in-cheek parody of modern times. I can't say I dislike it because I was really unprepared for it, but in a way that's wonderful because it means he stands out and also helps prove that even in a supposed "sub-genre" of independent stop-motion animation can be amazingly different styles and approaches (something that often gets overlooked in the essentializing of "independent" to mean "with the same anti-Hollywood concerns", which mostly isn't factual at all).

I don't know about the title of the DVD "Labyrinth of Darkness". Barta certainly has dark humor, and the shorts are a labyrinth in the sense that they branch off in different directions, but a "Labyrinth of Darkness" sort of puts across a much more brooding tone and mental fragmentation that these shorts aren't really concerned with. People looking for the disturbing surreality of Jan Svankmajer or the feverish Freudian landscape of the Brothers Quay might be a little disappointed by some of the offerings here; on the other hand, the works as a whole are a fresh twist on the interplay of movement, sound, and form, so I severely doubt anybody familiar with those other artists will be really turned off.

--PolarisDiB
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven, but rare and special at times. 2 Nov 2011
By K. Gordon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
7 very different animated shorts. Some brilliant in their storytelling, others a
little dull. But all are visual striking and very inventive, with multiple
styles of animation on display

(my ratings are out of 4 stars)

`Riddles for a Candy' (1978)**3/4 8 min.
Funny, playful, but I couldn't quite follow what it meant. More traditional
animation than the other shorts, as a weird character tries to answer riddles,
but the riddles, at least as translated, don't make much sense.

`The Disc Jockey' (1980)**3/4 10 min.
Everything in the short is circular, in the shape of a record, each morphing
into each other. Interesting visually, but doesn't add up to a lot.

`The Vanished World of Gloves' (1982) ***1/4 (16 min)
The history of cinema from silent slapstick comedy, to Fellini, through modern
sci-fi blockbusters all acted out by gloves (?!?). Very weird, not every moment
works but a lot of it is very funny and entertaining.

`A Ballad About Green Wood' (1983 )**3/4 8 min.
A confusing little fairy tale about a log of green wood split into pieces and having
adventures while being transmogrified into different forms. Pretty, with some
interesting underlying themes of death and rebirth, but doesn't quite all hang together.

`The Pied Piper of Hamlin' (1986)**1/2 53 minutes.
Generally considered Barta's best film, I respectfully disagree. I appreciate the
beauty of the woodblock carvings Barta creates here, as well as the wooden world
that surrounds them. And I like his darker re-telling of the story, making it even
more blatantly about greed, and more to the point that the people themselves are
the rats. But it feels like it takes twice the time it needs to tell the simple tale and
make it's points. That said, the images are unique and beautiful, so I'm not sorry
I saw it.

`The Last Theft (1987)**3/4 21 min.
A lot of this is creepy fun, with live actors in manipulated images playing with speed
and color. Once again Barta attacks greed, and a lot of it works, but I saw the twist
ending coming a mile off.

`The Club of the Laid Off" (1989)***1/2 25 min.
My favorite of all Barta's shorts, this dark, trenchant, sometimes very funny satire
of both the stultifying decay and meaningless changes of modern society. A bunch
of abandoned mannequins in an empty warehouse continue to repeat their
pointless actions, until a new, hipper group of mannequins are dumped in with them
and take over. A war ensues, but what is there really to win, except who rules a
pointless world of decay?

Overall a somewhat uneven, but well-sorth seeing collection of brave experiments.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cinema's heart is here 4 Oct 2007
By Trottin'-Butterz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
this is an amazing film done in stop-motion animation,and is like many of jan svankmajer's works in form and content.any avant-garde film addict or lover of animation should give it a look.amazing!
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