The Deadly Invention (Karel Zeman, 1958)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Deadly Invention.

criterion logoCalled “the Czech Méliès” and “the Walt Disney of Czechoslovakia,” Karel Zeman created worlds of fantasy that seemed to pre-date cinema’s invention.  His masterpiece, The Deadly Invention, loosely adapts Jules Verne’s Facing the Flag, bringing to life the etched illustrations of Verne artists like Edouard Riou and Leon Bennett.  Mixing real actors and sets with stop-motion animation, cut-outs, mechanical props, and other visual effects, Zeman produces a monochromatic world of steampunk imagination that transcends notions of reality and unreality at the same time.  A forgotten classic in science fiction cinema, Zeman’s 1958 version is presented here, along with the 1961 American version of its release, The Fabulous World of Jules Verne.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Isolated score by Zdenek Liška
  • Introductions by filmmakers Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton
  • The Fabulous World of Jules Verne, the 1961 American reworking of the original film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Inspiration, Zeman’s 10-minute stop-motion short featuring blown glass figures
  • The Magical World of Karel Zeman, Zdenek Rozkopal’s 1962 documentary on Zeman
  • The Special Effects of Karel Zeman, a 1980 documentary on Zeman’s ingenious techniques
  • Video tour of the Karel Zeman Museum with museum director Jakub Matejka and a video essay from the museum on the making of The Deadly Invention featuring Zeman’s daughter Ludmila Zemanová
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film archivist and Jules Verne Scholar Brian Taves and journalist Andrew Osmond

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Ikarie XB 1 (Jindrich Polak, 1963)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Ikarie XB 1.

criterion logoJindrich Polák’s pioneering feature Ikarie XB 1 is a cornerstone of modern science fiction cinema.  Based on Stanislaw Lem’s The Magellanic Cloud, this enigmatic film follows a crew of 22nd Century space explorers to their destination, the Alpha Centauri solar system, where they hope to make contact with extraterrestrial life.  On their way, they struggle with the boredom of interstellar travel, meet the dangerous legacy of 20th Century Earth, and battle the effects of a Dark Star’s radiation.  Punctuated by Zdenek Liška’s brashly electronic score and the careful compositions of cinematographers Jan Kalis and Sasa Rasilov, Ikarie XB 1 merges high concept and high art to produce a profoundly influential and highly atmospheric vision of space travel.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored 2K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Isolated score by Zdenek Liška
  • New video tribute from director Ari Folman
  • New interview with film critic Glenn Erickson comparing the film with its American-International cut, retitled Voyage to the End of the Universe
  • Except from a documentary about Stanislaw Lem, the author of the film’s source novel
  • Plus: A booklet featuring a new essay by director Alex Cox, a 1998 interview with director Jindrich Polák by Czech science fiction magazine Ikarie, interviews with Polák’s wife Zuzana Polaková, assistant director Hynek Bocan, actor Radovan Lukavský, and Czech science fiction author and journalist Ondrej Neff.

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