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The Valley of the Bees [DVD] 
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A visionary and haunting medieval epic from the director of Marketa Lazarová. Set in 13th century Europe this raw and powerful moral fable of corruption and fundamentalism chronicles the tale of a young boy made to join the Brotherhood of the Teutonic Knights and how as a man he rejects their doctrine, and the terrible price he must pay for that rejection.
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Top Customer Reviews
So while this is not as great as Marketa Lazarova it is still a great piece of film-making which film buffs will want to see, especially fans of Tarkovsky and to some degree Bresson. Second Run have excelled again with an excellent presentation of an obscure film.
Length: 97 minutes
Sound: Original mono (restored)
Black & White
Original aspect ratio: 2.35:1 16x9 anamorphic
Subtitles: English On/Off
Made immediately after Marketa Lazarova one might have expected a further development of those complex spatial and temporal editing schemes. Instead, all the structural complexity has gone leaving a very straight forward linear narrative, albeit beautifully made and photographed.
The Second Run transfer is stunning.
I think that some of the action is rather clumsily realised, for example when the father throws his son against the wall, but that's a minor point in an otherwise very impressive film.
I now need to reflect upon the reasons why the director chose to express these two stories a such different ways - it's great film making in either case.
In terms of interest and the level to which one is consumed by the plot, I'd put the film at around 4 stars perhaps. The story itself is a bit scary, following the logic of complete devotion to a religious ideal to its farthest extent. The movie exceeds itself in the ancient world it creates, a convincing world, but the end impression is that you are witnessing something vaguely familiar, a slice of an epoch from the history of ancient Europe. As such it seems to delve deeply not only into the psyche of Western culture (on which religion has had more than a little influence), but of human nature as well (as fanaticism has surely manifested itself in more than just religion). The film is a study of the sacred and the profane, which is which? I can understand why communist rule at the time of the release of this film wanted to quelch it. Beyond its setting within a Goth Christian world and it's vision of salvation, it seems to leave one to question the effects of any Machiavellian slavishness to an ideal. Powerful stuff.
The Medieval component transported you back to an era and the Czech's can do this like no other. See any Anglo-American film for comparison as they look a though they are shot on a stage compared to these Czech films where nature and man battle it out within the elements.
A tough literate film highlighting a Czech inner emotional and literary intelligence this is a form of cinematic Shakespeare with its tale of running away from being brainwashed only to be perpetually hounded by the perennially misguided. Seeking love our hero is on a personal quest as he begins to thaw.
This is middle Europe so the tale has a series of twists and turns but the attention to decaying medieval detail brought home a form of primitive splendor that made me want to enter the screen.
The valley of the bees is a pagan piece about the mysteries of women versus the orderliness and stoicism of men. Entertainment, world cinema- this goes somewhere else and delivers a verdict about the world that is inhabited than one purely existing in the head.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this film stupendously, dull, melodramatic and poorly acted.Published 17 months ago by Eleanor Hamilton
'Valley of the Bees' was directed by Frantisek Vlacil who also made 'Marketa Lazarova' (also available on Second Run). I like both films and find them equal in quality. Read morePublished on 9 April 2010 by MarkusG
Struggling with doubt and guilt, a man tries to escape the Order of Teutonic Knights (a sect of Christian crusaders) and their violent fanaticism. Read morePublished on 8 April 2010 by HJ