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Marketa Lazarová [1967] [DVD]

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Directors: Frantisek Vlacil
  • Format: Black & White, PAL, Anamorphic
  • Language: Czech
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Second Run
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Dec. 2007
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000WOTTSS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,965 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

Set in the 13th Century, this ambitious and multi-layered medieval epic with its nearly three-hour length, elliptical narrative and emphasis on symbol and metaphor, is a stunning work of cinema. Filmed in black & white widescreen and often attaining a Wellesian grandeur, Vlácil penetrated the psychology of the times to produce an inspired and fascinating film. Markéta Lazarová has been voted by Czech and Slovak critics and artists as the best Czech film of all time.

Review

A stonking Czech medieval epic. An epic medieval meditation, filmed at some length from a purportedly unfilmable novel by Vladislav Vancura. Acting out the intrigue, suspicion and bloodlust of 13th century tribal rivalry, the plot, such as it is, is wilfully wayward and often close to impenetrable. As 'pure cinema' though, it's stark, daring and astoundingly dynamic. Black and white 'Scope camerawork surveys a cruel, desolate landscape of plains, castles and forests populated by scavenging strays, strugglers, tyrants and wolf men, while an eerily evocative sound design gives the picture a near-hallucinatory quality. It's not so much drama as ancient litany - mystical and feral rather than spiritual or religious. --Time Out

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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Frantisek Vlacil directed "Marketa Lazarova" in 1967 during a two year shoot and was adapted from the avant-garde novel by author and 1930's film director Vladislav Vancura. Set in the 13th century it is a tale of to warring clans and the eventual doomed love of Marketa and Mikolas which leads one to draw comparisons to Shakespear's "Romeo and Juliet" although markedly more barbaric and superstitious. Vlacil is not interested telling a linear story which can make it difficult to follow at times but it is also his use of dialogue or the lack thereof which gives this film an hallucinatory quality. Vlacil's real emphasis is on the poetic image to create his narrative and is what really makes this an astounding work of art and brings to mind the work of other director's like Tarkovsky (Andrei Roublev,1966); Dreyer (Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928); Kurosawa (Seven Samurai, 1954), Bergman (The Seventh Seal,1957) and Eisenstein (Ivan the Terrible,1944). "Marketa Lazarova" also incorporates elements of soviet montage with the use of animals in several sequences as metaphor. The score by Zdenek Liska who is known for his work with Jan Svankmajer is amazing, incorporating medieval church music and making "Marketa Lazarova" an operatic masterpiece.

I am now lead to believe upon viewing this film that this is truly one of the great neglected works of of Czech cinema as it is rarely shown outside of Eastern Europe. All that has been set right now by Second Run releasing it on DVD format (Well done guys, we want more!). The transfer is excellent with high contrast and a great clean soundtrack. There are no extras aside from the informative booklet but that is no cause for complaint.

Do not miss this opportunity to own a copy of this amazing film. A must for all film buffs.
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Marketa Lazarová is without a doubt one of the most beautiful medieval epic films i have ever seen. Frantisek Vlácil impressed me so much that after watching this one i immediately purchased the 4dvd box on Second Run DVD called The Frantisek Vlácil Collection. My favourite scenes are off course the ones with Magda Vásáryová who plays Marketa but for sure the dreamlike scenes where a woman strolls naked through the fields. This is pure beauty and trendsetting for a film made in 1967.

This one is highest possible recommendation, do not miss out on it or you will regret it forever as stated by Second Run this is the first-ever DVD release of Marketa Lazarová anywhere in the world.

Pure sheer beauty.
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Marketa Lazarová is a masterpiece. Forget the plot: it's incredibly violent, but that's largely by-and-by, because the film is narrated in such an elliptical way that we see only fragments. Indeed the climactic battle sequence, which would form about half an hour of any modern mainstream flick never appeared at all: it was replaced by a complex sequence of hallucinations.

And hallucinatory is the word. Shots of a scene from different camera angles had the same characters in totally different settings. The dialogue didn't even begin to match up with the action, and in some scenes we clearly heard an actor talking in spite of their mouth being tightly closed. And just to add to the fun, what they were 'saying' was only tangentially related to what was happening on screen. And finally, there was extraordinary usage of animals: birds, mice, fish, one very unhappy horse, sheep, deer and, most extraordinarily, a pack of 'wolves' (actually German Shepherds) who created amazing menace at pivotal moments just by standing, motionless.

So, a largely disconnected series of scenes, with only a loose connection to a story, which was very hard to follow. Why did I think it was great? Well, it's all in the cumulative weight of the hallucination, and the amazing use of images and cameras: the camera often would sail straight past the speaker to focus on some distant object which, by virtue of its sheer ordinariness, acquired a significance and weight that a more obvious 'symbol' could not. And this meant that everything in the film acquired depth and sub-text and so every image resonated with significance, no less noteworthy for the fact that it was mysterious.

So, a clear high-point in the Czech new wave, which is saying something. I want to watch it again, and I recommend that you watch it too.
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Well! It takes your breath away, this film. It's an epic, to be sure - and what an epic. It's about three hours long, but it is so intriguing and magnificent to look at that you forget the minutes ticking away.

The visual quality is remarkable from start to finish. Endless snow, and dark pine forests - and actors being made to live in mediaeval conditions for ages before and during shooting give the film a certain 'edge' - although for me Marketa's hairstyle is unmistakably 1960s - and the film weaves a spell all of its own.

(Just for interest, compare it to 'Winstanley' - another "authentic" historical effort. Made for a tiny fraction of the cost of this one.)

'Marketa Lazarova' has to be seen - even if only once. It is a great film, using the word great in its proper sense. I doubt if it is perfect - other reviewers have pointed out the possible flaws - but once seen, it is not easily forgotten, and it's lovely that it is now available in such a beautiful print.
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