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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.
In this movie there are no clear cut good vs evil and no typical villains and heroes (maybe for the exception of Marketa Lazarova herself who has some saint-like innocence). The people are more the products of the harsh social and religious environment of the dark ages. The plot is better experienced than talked about in advance. Haunting, complex and spell-binding, this is a very good movie, much better than the historic epics produced by hollywood every year.
The transfer is excellent (I watched it on a projector) with beautiful black/white (it's hard to think of this movie being made in colour).
This is the kind of movie that can be watched again. There is no commentary which would have been nice, but the booklet is informative. Second Run has made a fantastic job making this 40 year old movie look like new.
At the price of £8 it's extremely good value for money. Highly recommended!
Apparently Marketa Lazarova is generally agreed to be the best ever Czech film - in Czechoslovakia that is. Outside Czechoslovakia both film & director fell into neglect. To be honest I hadn't heard of this film until recently. Indeed to non-Czechs it is a perplexing film - it purports to be an "authentic" depiction of the middle ages but is not based on authentic folk tales but on an experimental modernist novel from 1930s, and the film itself was not really part of Czech new wave and yet is an extreme example of 1960s European art house style: strange camera angles, elaborate tracking shots, freeze frames, rapid cut editing etc. The narrative is very fragmented, more or less a series of random episodes containing scenes which move back & forth in time. The director was a disciple of Eisenstein & the "poetic" montage of both image and sound is incredibly complex. I had difficulty following the film and at nearly 3 hours it sometimes got a bit wearying on first viewing - I couldn't help but think I should be watching it on a really big screen in a cinema.
Nonetheless, the film does undoubtedly have an impact even on DVD - films like this simply aren't made anymore - & I've ended up watching it several times already. The cinematography is unbelievable & there are numerous extraordinary scenes - the various scenes with wolves are particularly memorable.Read more ›
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 5 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 16 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
Marketa Lazarová is without a doubt one of the most beautiful medieval epic films i have ever seen. Read morePublished on 10 Nov. 2013 by starlightspacelab
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
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... Read morePublished on 25 Mar. 2011 by Julian Porter