Criterion Made Mine! The Karel Zeman Edition

The Criterion Collection’s February titles are up and things looks great with MMC!’s #5 film for 2018, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, slated for a stacked release (that includes a kogonada video essay). Also announced are Jennie Livingston’s amazing drag doc Paris is Burning (1990), Pier Paolo Pasonini’s provocative Teorema (1969), and a Blu-grade of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s architectural exploration, Antonio Gaudí (1984), however February gets even better with the realization that yet another MMC!-proposed title is set to join the Criterion Collection and provide another glorious case of spine number wish fulfillment!

Released by the Criterion Collection under the title Invention for Destruction, Karel Zeman’s The Deadly Invention (1958) is packaged with Journey to the Beginning of Time (1955) and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962) under the collective title Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman. In this moment of self-congratulation, MMC! points out that we not only had this more than four and a half years ago, but also called the inclusion of Zeman’s short film Inspiration (1949), the particulars of the American release, appearances by Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam, and Czech documentaries on Zeman!

Once again, and always, you’re welcome, cinephiles!

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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