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Marketa Lazarová  [DVD]
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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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quite frankly I was disappointed after they hype and whilst Vlacil certainly provides beautiful images the film just become a sprawl of them whereas Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev with... Read morePublished 9 months ago by LeBrit
A stunning, atmospheric, entrancing, haunting, beautiful and often brutal film, with composition and imagery that lingers in the mind long after the film is over (almost every shot... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Andrew J. Holliday
if you have the money to blow on the Criterion blu ray, go for it. if not, this is the best alternative.
excellent film, considered the best Czech film ever made. recommended
I was expecting much more from this film than it could actually deliver in its 3 hour length,especially after many highly praising comments on amazon and imdb sites. Read morePublished on 5 Mar. 2013 by Yoselovich Boris
This follows Jodorowsky and El Topo into the mystical tent of weird films that ply the visual senses. Read morePublished on 5 Mar. 2012 by Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles
I bought the Second Run DVD, after reading about how this epic was considered the best Czech film, ever.
To be honest, not many other contenders spring to mind. Read more
I agree with all the positive reviews that Marketa Lazarova is certainly an impressive work and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Bergman's and Tarkovsky's middle-ages... Read morePublished on 18 Jan. 2011 by mancheeros
Regularly voted as one of the best, even the greatest ever Czech film, there can be few objections to this rating if applied only to its visual quality. Read morePublished on 4 Mar. 2009 by omnigadrum