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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic set
This Box Set features four incredible Polish films from the late 1950's and early 1960's: Andrzej Wajda's INNOCENT SORCERERS (1960), Jerzy Kawalerowicz NIGHT TRAIN(1959), Andrzej Munk's EROICA (1957) and Janusz Morgenstern's GOODBYE SEE YOU TOMORROW (1960).
The first thing to say is that they look stunning. The box says that "the films are presented from new HD...
Published on 12 Mar 2012 by rigo yangtse

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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movies, disappointing transfers
Wonderful movies, but unfortunately there is something wrong with the black-and-white images, which look very digitalized and not film-like at all. By removing the film grain, using a process called Digital Noise Reduction, the image is effectively robbed of fine texture and subtle tonal modulations. Everything looks lifeless, like made out of plastic. Look for instance...
Published on 18 Mar 2012 by movieman


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic set, 12 Mar 2012
This review is from: Polish Cinema Classics [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
This Box Set features four incredible Polish films from the late 1950's and early 1960's: Andrzej Wajda's INNOCENT SORCERERS (1960), Jerzy Kawalerowicz NIGHT TRAIN(1959), Andrzej Munk's EROICA (1957) and Janusz Morgenstern's GOODBYE SEE YOU TOMORROW (1960).
The first thing to say is that they look stunning. The box says that "the films are presented from new HD masters" - and it shows. These films really do look astoundingly good.
Andrzej Wajda is certainly the best-known filmmaker here (his other works include ASHES & DIAMONDS, KANAL, DANTON, MAN OF IRON, KATYN and the upcoming Lech Walesa film). INNOCENT SORCERERS provides a tantalising look at late-50s, post-Stalin Poland of jazz clubs, sex and alienated young men and women. It's incredibly vibrant, stylish and fresh. The same can be said of the other titles here. The great mystery is WHY these films have never been released properly (if ever) in the UK before? All are quite wonderful in their own way - Kawalerowicz's Hitchcockian NIGHT TRAIN is a brilliant tale of suspense and intrigue, but also an insightful meditation on human nature; Munk's EROICA balances black comedy and human tragedy to profound effect and Morgenstern's GOODBYE, SEE YOU TOMORROW (a film I'd previously known nothing about) is a revelation - a romantic tale of a doomed love affair that prefigures the French New Wave.
I'm indebted to Second Run's brilliant and informative booklets that accompany their releases, they often - as here - prove invaluable in putting the films and filmmakers into context, full of intriguing details and information that enrich the viewing of the films. Particularly revelatory here is Michale Brooke's essay on GOODBYE, SEE YOU TOMORROW which in addition to bringing the film alive with meaning is, I believe, the first in-depth discussion of the film in the English language. (NB: it is often best to read the booklet essays AFTER watching the films as plot details are often necessarily revealed in the discussions).
In addition to the booklets the films are also accompanied by some interesting DVD Extra's: a new interview with Wajda shot in November 2011; an extract from a documentary about Jerzy Kawalerowicz on NIGHT TRAIN, and Andrzej Munk's 1958 short film A WALK IN THE OLD TOWN OF WARSAW.

I have to admit that I know (knew) little or nothing about Polish cinema or Polish history but these important films provide a fascinating cultural insight into the lives and politics of the time. Brilliant. More please!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Live the Polish Film School!, 6 April 2012
By 
HJ (London UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Polish Cinema Classics [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
The Second Run label has been doing a great job releasing vintage films from the former eastern bloc & they've really excelled themselves here. Four films from the so-called "Polish Film School" 1957-1960 on 4 discs, restored & looking good in rich black & white & new sub-titles, each with an illustrated booklet containing a lengthy informative essay, plus a few extras on the discs.

These films are "classics" in the sense that they had a big impact in Poland at the time and also met with acclaim internationally. However I doubt they've been seen in UK for decades - at least I don't recall ever seeing them on the art-house cinema circuit or late night TV. The reason might be that the Polish Film School was quite early, instigated by a mid 1950s post-Stalin cultural thaw in Poland but fading out in early 1960s after "discouragement" from the authorities. I guess it then became overshadowed by all the later new waves of the 1960s, including the Czech & Hungarian.

Many people will have Polanski's "Knife in the Water", Wajda's "Ashes & Diamonds" war trilogy and a few of the other previous DVD releases like "Saragossa Manuscript", "Mother Joan of Angels" & "Passenger" - and that's about it - so this box set should, at a stroke, give a big boost to the vintage Polish cinema collections of most of us. The four films are as follows:

Kawalerowicz: NIGHT TRAIN (1959). A mysterious, equally traumatized man & woman, strangers, are thrown together in a sleeper compartment on a crowded train - what will ensue: a one night stand or a murder? This is what we want from the Polish Film School! If you like "Knife in the Water" you'll love this - mostly filmed in the confined space of a train carriage with incredibly stylish cinematography & jazzy vocal soundtrack. There are nods to the Hitchcockian thriller, but it's really more of a psychological observational piece with lots of funny eccentric secondary plots & characters (including, inevitably, Cybulski) and, as often in eastern bloc cinema, some surreal & sinister allegorical overtones. Brilliant film.

Munk: EROICA (1957) A second world war movie with a difference - setting out to systematically undermine & dismantle standard myths of heroism. The first part is a black comedy about a drunken man reluctantly getting embroiled in the Warsaw uprising; the second part is a more sombre piece about Polish soldiers in a Nazi prison camp being tortured by each other's irritating habits rather than by the German guards. It's hard to believe this was made in Poland in 1957 - it certainly wouldn't have got made in UK or USA. The disc also includes an evocative short colour film by Munk about a little girl wandering around Warsaw's old town.

Wajda: INNOCENT SORCERERS (1960) Young beatnik types listen to jazz, discuss their existentialist angst, ride scooters & smoke a lot of cigarettes. A very new wave style film which stars EVERYBODY - Lomnicki, Cybulski, Polanski, Jerzy "Deep End" Skolimowski, even composer Komeda - as himself! There's a long elaborately choreographed Godard-style central scene of a couple in an apartment. The characterization & dialogue is rather stilted & contrived compared to, say, French or Czech new wave films, but maybe it's misleading to compare - this mannered theatricality seems to be part of the Polish style. Even if, like me, you don't quite "get" the film (on first viewing) it's still worth watching for its great cinematography & the scenes of Warsaw streets & clubs and the zany antics of the jazz group with Polanski & Komeda (did Dick Lester see this film? the way the group are filmed off & on stage seems to prefigure the Beatles in "Hard Days Night"!)

Morgenstern: GOODBYE SEE YOU TOMORROW (1960) A young Polish guy (Cybulski) feels his backward cultural inferiority in a brief fling with a chic French girl visiting Poland - he calls her his "girl from another planet". Similar in style to "Innocent Sorcerers" but the elliptical & mannered style seems more appropriate to this film, set around a theatre & apparently written by Cybulski based on his experiences in such a theatre troupe. A strangely haunting film.

It really does help being able to see 4 closely related films in one batch like this - overall a very well put together box set.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive boxset, with a disappointment and a revelation, 24 April 2012
By 
Alan Pavelin (Chislehurst, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Polish Cinema Classics [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
As a longtime enthusiast for Polish films, I snapped up this boxset of little-known offerings from around 1960. Three of the four feature the "superstar" Zbigniew Cybulski, always with his trademark shades made famous in Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds. Two feature a very young Roman Polanski in small roles.
Night Train, directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, is on the face of it a Hitchcockian thriller about a murderer aboard a train. During the course of the film it becomes more of a character study, with a collection of disperate passengers all with their own concerns and preoccupations. The two central characters, unknown to each other, are a man and a woman finding themselves in the same sleeping compartment owing to a mixup. An enjoyable film with a haunting outdoor sequence involving the chase of the murderer.
I own nearly a dozen DVDs of Wajda's films, and have seen several others, but Innocent Sorcerers is totally untypical and, for me, a disappointment. In fact, Wajda himself states, in an "extra", that he doesn't know why he made the film. It is like an early French "new wave" feature, most obviously Godard's A Bout de Souffle, with a long meandering conversation between the male and female leads in the former's flat. As a film it seems extremely dated.
Eroica, directed by Andrzej Munk, is the only one of these films I have seen previously, and that not for many years. It is actually two separate stories, the first a cynical war film set during the Warsaw uprising, the second set in a POW camp. Both prick the balloon of the "Polish romanticism" myth, the notion that fighting to the death is the noble thing to do. Also on this DVD is a delightful dialogue-free short, A Walk Round the Old Town of Warsaw, about a little girl carrying her violin around the eponymous area.
The real revelation, for me, was Goodbye, See You Tomorrow, by Janusz Morgenstern, of whom I had never heard. On the face of it another French-style "new wave" film, this stars Cybulski as a dreamy actor who becomes infatuated with a visiting French girl. With none of the pretentiousness of Innocent Sorcerers, and with a brief travelogue around Gdansk, this is a delightful film which should be much better known. Cybulski is terrific.
Overall a most impressive boxset, but I'm marking it down to 4 stars because of the disappointing Wajda film.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movies, disappointing transfers, 18 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Polish Cinema Classics [DVD] [1958] (DVD)
Wonderful movies, but unfortunately there is something wrong with the black-and-white images, which look very digitalized and not film-like at all. By removing the film grain, using a process called Digital Noise Reduction, the image is effectively robbed of fine texture and subtle tonal modulations. Everything looks lifeless, like made out of plastic. Look for instance at faces in close-up; they look like the faces of protagonists in some video game.
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Polish Cinema Classics [DVD] [1958]
Polish Cinema Classics [DVD] [1958] by Janusz Morgenstern (DVD - 2012)
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