Aside from being an astonishingly effective and expertly depicted journey through space, Roman Kroitor and Colin Low’s Universe (1960) is probably most celebrated for its connection to Stanley Kubrick and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). This Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning short was a revelation to Kubrick, who purportedly watched nearly every space movie made to that point in preparation for 2001. Universe proved that it was possible to depict outer space with complete realism, and Kubrick hired the short’s special effects technician Wally Gentleman as an uncredited special effects supervisor and cast Universe‘s narrator Douglas Rain as the voice of the HAL 9000. Colin Low was also invited by Kubrick to work on 2001, but the director turned down the offer to work with Roman Kroitor and Hugh O’Connor on the multi-screen documentary collage film, In the Labyrinth (1967), for Expo 67 in Montreal. In the Labyrinth served as a precursor to the IMAX format developed in part by Kroitor, and the film’s content anticipates the immersive travelogues and spectacular anthropologies of films like Godfrey Reggio’s Qatsi Trilogy (1983, 1988, and 2002) and Ron Fricke’s Baraka (1992) and Samsara (2011), although Labyrinth proves even more daring in its formal construction. A link to In the Labyrinth is included below.
As per the NFB:
A triumph of film art, creating on the screen a vast, awe-inspiring picture of the universe as it would appear to a voyager in space, this film was among the sources used in his 2001: A Space Odyssey. Realistic animation takes you into far regions of space, beyond the reach of the strongest telescope, past Moon, Sun, and Milky Way into galaxies yet unfathomed.
Click here to watch In the Labyrinth on the NFB website!
As per the NFB:
A film without commentary in which multiple images, sometimes complimentary, sometimes contrasting, draw the viewer through the different stages of a labyrinth. The tone of the film moves from great joy to wrenching sorrow; from stark simplicity to ceremonial pomp. It is life as it is lived by the people of the world, each one, as the film suggests, in a personal labyrinth.
In the Labyrinth was first released as a multi-screen presentation for Chamber III of the Labyrinth at Expo 67. These separate images were integrated into a single strand of film, using a “five-on-one” cinematic technique.
A HORROR THAT GROWS ON YOU!
After a yacht is damaged in a storm and stranded near a deserted island, its passengers – a psychologist, his student, a wealthy businessman, a famous singer, a popular writer, a sailor, and the boat’s skipper – take refuge on a fungus covered ship marooned on the island’s shore. With food scarce and the ship’s logs warning that the island’s plentiful mushrooms, called “Matango,” are to be avoided, the castaways find their characters tested, leading to private deals, sexual tension, and violence. But when the hunger of the shipwrecked party becomes too great and its members begin eating the forbidden fungus, the true horror of Matango is revealed, transforming the castaways in mind and body into hideous fungal monsters!
Famed Japanese director Ishiro Honda assembles an all-star cast from his previous sci-fi films and monster movies for Matango, featuring performances by Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Koizumi, and Yoshio Tsuchiya. Captivating hallucinatory sequences, impressive set designs, and fantastically horrifying special effects by the celebrated Eiji Tsuburaya make this colorful B-movie a little known tokusatsu classic. Based on the 1907 story “The Voice in the Night” by William Hope Hodgson, Matango is one of the strangest, most horrific Toho productions to date and is presented here, for the first time, in high-definition presentations of its original Japanese version and its American cut, Attack of the Mushroom People.
- New high definition digital transfer of the Japanese cut of Matango and of the 1965 American version Attack of the Mushroom People edited for TV by American International Television
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
- Uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition
- Newly translated English subtitles for the Japanese soundtrack
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary by star Akira Kubo
- Interview with SFX cinematographer Teruyoshi Nakano
- Spoken word reading by screenwriter Masami Fukushima
- Vinyl Fungus – Artist Barry Allen Williams on Matango and its collectibles
- “Voice in the Night,” a 1958 episode of Suspicion based on the same source material as Matango
- Theatrical trailer
- Production sketches
- Collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by scholar Richard Pusateri and William Hope Hodgson’s original 1907 story “The Voice in the Night”
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Forbidden Room.
Overwhelmed with narrative and fearful that their brains might explode under its pressure, Canadian cult filmmaker Guy Maddin and his co-creator Evan Johnson offer the ultimate epic phantasmagoria from the ectoplasmic residue of early cinema’s lost films. Two-Strip Technicolor havoc is created with the assistance of master poet John Ashbery, actor Udo Kier, and a host of French and Québécois stars who filmed on public sets at Paris’ Pompidou Center and Montreal’s Phi Center. The Forbidden Room is a kaleidoscopic viewing experience borne from cinema’s past, present, and future where flapjacking eating submarine crews, forest bandits, skeleton women, and vampire bananas await!
- New 4K digital master, with 5.1 digital DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Audio commentary with Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson
- Interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from the Phi Center shoots
- Endless Ectoloops
- Living posters
- Theatrical trailer
- Seven-episode series on Guy Maddin’s Seances from the Phi Center
- New interview with cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke
- New interview with production designer Galen Johnson on his design of the film’s more than 400 intertitle screens
- La chambre interdite, French version of The Forbidden Room with French intertitle screens
- The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Maddin, Yves Montmayeur’s 65-minute documentary on “the Canadian David Lynch”
- Once a Chicken, a séance with László Moholy-Nagy
- Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton, Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson’s short film on the making of Paul Gross’s Canadian war film, Hyena Road, with introduction by the filmmakers
- Footage from the Toronto Film Critics Association’s awards ceremony naming The Forbidden Room 2015’s Best Canadian Film
- PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by Guy Maddin and film critics Jonathan Rosenbaum and Hillary Weston
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents A Matter of Life and Death.
As his plane is going down in flames, doomed World War II pilot, Squadron Leader Peter Carter (David Niven) meets over the radio the love of his life, an American radio operator named June (Kim Hunter). He miraculously survives the crash and the pair commence their romance, but Carter is troubled with a life-threatening brain injury treated by a village doctor (Roger Livesey) and a heavenly collector (Marius Goring) intent on escorting his errant soul to the other side. Originally designed as a propaganda piece to promote better relations between Britain and the United States, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death became an English classic featuring delightful performances by its cast, accomplished Technicolor cinematography by Jack Cardiff, and spectacular production design by Alfred Junge.
- New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Audio commentary by film historian Ian Christie
- Martin Scorsese on A Matter of Life and Death
- Thelma Schoonmaker Powell and Grover Crisp on AMOLAD and its restoration
- Interview with cinematographer Jack Cardiff
- A Matter of Fried Onions, Diane Broadbent Friedman on the medical foundation of AMOLAD
- Behind the scenes footage, filmed during a visit to Denham Studios by Canadian soldiers
- “The King and the Stars,” a Front Page newsreel by British Pathé on the 1946 Royal Command Film Performance screening, along with unused and unissued footage of the event and the press reception
- New interview with author J. K. Rowling and actor Daniel Radcliffe in appreciation of the film
- Two Lux Radio Theatre productions from 1947 (starring Ray Milland, Ann Blyth, and Nigel Bruce) and 1955 (starring David Niven and Barbara Rush)
- The Hedda Hooper Show – This is Hollywood‘s 30-minute radio adaptation, starring David Niven, Kim Hunter, and Vincent Price
- Screen Director’s Playhouse radio production from 1951, starring Robert Cummings and Julia Adams
- Kinescope of the “Stairway to Heaven” TV adaptation for Robert Montgomery Presents, starring Richard Green, Jean Gillespie, and Bramwell Fletcher
- Parody sketch from Big Train, featuring Simon Pegg, Kevin Eldon, Mark Heap, and Amelia Bullmore
- Gallery of sketches and stills of Alfred Junge’s production designs
- Sequence shot for Powell and Pressburger’s unmade The White Cockade, starring David Niven and Pamela Brown
- PLUS: A booklet featuring behind the scenes photos, the script, and new essays by film critics Dave Kehr, Robert Horton, and Mark Kermode
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Hellzapoppin’.
Make way for the nuttiest, zaniest, wackiest film this side of the loony-bin! Comedy team Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson blast through the fourth wall and demolish the musical-comedy genre, playing Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson, production assistants to a fledgling stage revue. Hellzapoppin’s screwball romance story takes a backseat to the daffy hijinks and absurdist gags that tear at breakneck speed through this play within a film within a film. Inspired by the comedians’ highly successful Broadway show and adapted to mock the filmmaking process, Hellzapoppin’ is a singular work of celluloid irreverence where ANY SIMILARITY TO A MOTION PICTURE IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL!
- New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Introduction by filmmaker and comedian Mel Brooks
- New interview on the Hellzapoppin’ Broadway musical with Jack Marshall, Artistic Director of The American Century Theater
- Crazy House, Olsen and Johnson’s 1943 feature film follow-up where the duo attempts to film an independent movie after being fired by Universal Pictures
- Kinescopes of Olsen and Johnson’s NBC variety show Fireball Fun for All
- PLUS: An essay by media scholar Henry Jenkins
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Svengali.
Based on George du Maurier’s novel Trilby, the great John Barrymore stars as the manipulative but charming music tutor Svengali, who uses his hypnotic powers to entrance a young artist’s model named Trilby (Marian Marsh) and transform her into a European singing sensation. Archie Mayo’s film reverses the book’s focus, emphasizing the sinister Svengali over his attractive victim, resulting in one of Barrymore’s most critically acclaimed performances. Anton Grot’s art direction and Barney McGill’s cinematography were each nominated for Academy Awards and are as baroque and creepy as Barrymore’s portrayal of the mesmeric maestro. Svengali is an under-appreciated classic of Hollywood’s early sound horror films and a tragically tantalizing Pre-Code masterpiece.
- High definition digital transfer with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- Audio commentary featuring film historian Gregory Mank
- From Trilby to Today, an interview with scholar Gayle Wald on the Svengali figure
- The Look of Svengali, an interview with designer and journalist Cathy Whitlock
- PLUS: A new essay by filmmaker Guy Maddin