Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

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MichaelB
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#26 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:19 am

DVD Times review of the Švankmajer box - a four-page epic!

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#27 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:49 am

This one's strictly for Czech speakers only, but there's an interview with me about producing the Švankmajer DVD in today's Hospodářské noviny (Czech national daily newspaper).

(I only have a vague idea of what it says myself, as the original Q&A was in English).

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#28 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:48 am

DVD Outsider on the Švankmajer box.

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#29 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:37 am

This week's MovieMail podcast discusses Jan Švankmajer's shorts - and includes an interview with yours truly.

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#30 Post by denti alligator » Mon Jul 23, 2007 11:12 pm

Michael,

The Svankmajer set is, so far, incredible!

I have one question about the transfers. Most of them so far (I'm still on disc one) suffer from that pesty single jaggy off-center right top of the frame, single jaggy off-center left bottom of the frame. I see this occasionally on PAL discs, but it was absent from the Quay Bros. set (except for on From the Museum of Sleep). My display is an LCD receiving image from an HTPC, so PAL-NTSC conversion should not be the cause of this. I'm sure it would be visible on all copies and all displays. Do you know what causes it? Somewhat annoying. Since all (but one) of these is 1.33, I usually zoom in a hair to crop it off and make it even, but I'd prefer not to have to do that.

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#31 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jul 24, 2007 2:46 am

With the Quay set, we had the wonderful luxury of being able to master directly to HD from the original materials, and were in complete control throughout. (The Phantom Museum was the exception, since it was partly shot and edited on SD video and therefore only available in that format).

By contrast, with the Švankmajer box we hardly had any control over the materials at all. The vast majority of the transfers were supplied as existing PAL Digibetas from the same source in Prague, and although we gave them an extensive digital clean-up (which is why the BFI set looks noticeably better than the US and French DVDs, despite largely being derived from the same masters), there was a limit to what we were able to correct.

That's also why Johanes Doktor Faust on disc three is non-anamorphic - we would have been quite happy to pay for a new anamorphic transfer, but were told that the negative was "too fragile" to access again. And it's a major stroke of luck that the BFI (a) used to distribute J.S.Bach theatrically, and (b) still had two 35mm prints in more or less pristine condition - because the non-anamorphic Digibeta we were sent was frankly unusable (the sound was horrendously distorted - if you have the US DVD The Ossuary and Other Tales and are feeling masochistic, give it a listen!), so at least we were able to create a new anamorphic transfer from one of those.

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#32 Post by MichaelB » Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:28 pm

A few days ago I dug out an elaborate Jan Švankmajer timeline that I originally drew up for the booklet for Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films.

After being advised that it would push the page count too far in terms of being able to squeeze the end result into the sleeve (which was already in production), I reluctantly axed it - but when it turned up the other day, I thought I might as well publish it elsewhere.

Note that this isn't necessarily what would have been published in the booklet - I suspect it would have had at least one more draft before I was completely happy with it. But I don't have time to give it another going-over right now, and there's enough good material to make it worth circulating.

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#33 Post by sdk83 » Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:10 am

This timeline is awesome. Thanks for sharing it.

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#34 Post by MichaelB » Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:18 am

Jan Švankmajer - The Complete Short Films is DVD Outsider's DVD of the Year

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Steven H
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#35 Post by Steven H » Wed Jan 02, 2008 9:56 am

MichaelB wrote:Jan Švankmajer - The Complete Short Films is DVD Outsider's DVD of the Year
It definitely deserves it.

Another note about the BFI Naruse set, the booklet contains two name errors. In the Willeman essay he writes "Takashi Shimizu" when he meant "Hiroshi Shimizu" ((big difference here, one did The Grudge (2004) the other Mr. Thank You (1936)), and in the credits area, the novelist Late Chrysanthemums is based on isn't "Fumio Hayashi" (an economist) it's "Fumiko Hayashi".

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#36 Post by codam » Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:32 pm

MichaelB wrote:
Lino wrote:MichaelB, sorry if I sound like I'm intruding or something but about the Svankmajer releases: are we talking his shorts, his features or both?
I'm working on the shorts - but I believe the features (at least four, possibly all five) are also being readied for UK release on another label, and hopefully for next year as well.
Is there any further news on this? I've just finished the (absolutely brilliant) shorts set and it would be great to know that some Svankmajer features are on their way! (albeit not from the BFI)

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#37 Post by MichaelB » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:33 pm

codam wrote:Is there any further news on this? I've just finished the (absolutely brilliant) shorts set and it would be great to know that some Svankmajer features are on their way! (albeit not from the BFI)
Absolutely no idea, I'm afraid - I don't know any more than I knew a year ago.

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#38 Post by karmajuice » Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:06 am

I bought this a little while back and have tried playing it for the first time (on my laptop, via AnyDVD) tonight. It doesn't work. AnyDVD suggests I find a firmware update (which doesn't seem to exist for a Matshita UJ-110) or that the media may be damaged. I've watched my Buster Keaton set (Masters of Cinema) with this same set-up, though, and it's presumably Region 2 as well.

If anyone could help I'd be extraordinarily grateful. I've done a great deal of searching all for naught, and I don't want to keep purchasing DVDs from other regions if they persistently don't work with my laptop. It could be disc damage, but they seem absolutely flawless. I'm at a loss. It just seems absurd that something as simple as region protection should prevent me from watching this, when I paid something like sixty dollars for a (supposedly reliable) program to circumvent that.

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#39 Post by denti alligator » Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:12 am

This should be in the Technical Issues thread, but I would suggest contacting AnyDVD. I've had trouble with their software in the past. Some discs simply will not play with AnyDVD running. If I switch the drive region to that of the disc, they play, which proves that it's the software itself that's causing the problem. This may be one of those glitches that AnyDVD hasn't dealt with. Unfortunately, now you have to pay for upgrades (which is a joke). I could try my set later, if you want.

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#40 Post by karmajuice » Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:42 am

I've looked around a bit more and apparently my driver is just persnickety, so I may get some external driver for watching region-coded DVDs.

On a more relevant note, while I haven't actually watched the DVDs yet, the packaging for this release is quite satisfactory and I've been enjoying the booklet. . . (sigh)

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#41 Post by broadwayrock » Mon Jan 05, 2009 5:31 am

Do you have the latest version of anydvd? a newer copy protection could be stopping anydvd playing it.

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#42 Post by Telstar » Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:45 pm

karmajuice wrote:I bought this a little while back and have tried playing it for the first time (on my laptop, via AnyDVD) tonight. It doesn't work. AnyDVD suggests I find a firmware update (which doesn't seem to exist for a Matshita UJ-110) or that the media may be damaged. I've watched my Buster Keaton set (Masters of Cinema) with this same set-up, though, and it's presumably Region 2 as well.

If anyone could help I'd be extraordinarily grateful. I've done a great deal of searching all for naught, and I don't want to keep purchasing DVDs from other regions if they persistently don't work with my laptop.
Sent you a pm regarding your Svankmajer set. If you're unable to get it working properly or decide you want to sell or trade it, I'm interested.

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#43 Post by MichaelB » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:44 pm

Beaver - "This is one of the best collections of animation that I have ever come across."

One small quibble - the documentary The Cabinet of Jan Švankmajer was the brainchild of Keith Griffiths, not the Quay Brothers, who merely contributed the animated links. But given that the Quays introduce it on the DVD I can see where that misapprehension came from.

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#44 Post by Feego » Fri Feb 26, 2010 3:17 pm

I recently finished watching all of the shorts on this set, and I must say, this is now one of the grand jewels of my DVD collection. I had already seen all of Svankmajer's feature films, but these shorts are just amazing. I've watched bits and pieces of the special features on disc 3 and hope to have a proper viewing soon. This set (along with the R2 Picnic at Hanging Rock) was one of the main reasons I sprung for a region free player. That decision has now been fully justified.

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#45 Post by YnEoS » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:24 pm

My DVD is in storage at the moment, so apologies if this is covered in the booklet somewhere. But does anyone know if there are any other films made similar to Johannes Doktar Faust either directed by Emil Radok or somehow associated with or influenced by Laterna Magika? All I've been able to find is this article on Emil Radok, and it sounds like most of his work is mixed media. The briefly mentioned, Don Špagát, from 1960 sounds promising. Does anyone know anything about it, or if there's anyway it can be viewed?


Just really fascinated by this film as it seems much more an antecedent of Svankmajer's style than anything I've seen from Trnka or Zeman, and I'm curious if there's more stuff like this out there.

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#46 Post by MichaelB » Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:51 am

I stuck Johanes Doktor Faust on the disc because I couldn't think of any other way of easily getting to see it! So no, I haven't seen any of the other Emil Radok films - I daresay it's possible to research them in the Prague national film archives, but I'm not aware of any commercial release.

Oh, and since this thread has been revived, UK-based Švankmajer fans, especially those in or near Brighton over the next couple of months, might well be interested in this.

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#47 Post by YnEoS » Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:32 am

MichaelB wrote:I stuck Johanes Doktor Faust on the disc because I couldn't think of any other way of easily getting to see it! So no, I haven't seen any of the other Emil Radok films - I daresay it's possible to research them in the Prague national film archives, but I'm not aware of any commercial release.
And thanks so much for doing so! Its been a real eye opener ever since I first watched it on the DVD.

It'll probably be a while before I have the capabilities of traveling to archives to study films. So for now I'll just keep hoping that someone will release a Complete Short Films of Emil Radok dvd complete with a puppet theater capable of playing miniature versions of his multi-screen films.

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Re: Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films

#48 Post by denti alligator » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:18 pm

So I've had this collection for 12+ years now and haven't played the discs in a while, but today I tried to play one and all three discs are not recognized by my player, which otherwise plays all regions NTSC and PAL and Blu-rays no problem. Could the disc have "died"?

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