129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

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criterionsnob
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129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#1 Post by criterionsnob » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:12 am

Coming to BD and DVD, according to the latest Second Run newsletter:
Also coming soon is Alfréd Radok's extraordinary Distant Journey (Daleká cesta). Set in the concentration camp and ghetto Terezín, this 1948 film, the first feature to tackle the subject of the Holocaust, is present from a brand-new 4K restoration that recently premiered at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival. A stark and harrowing warning from history, Distant Journey marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Terezín.

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Ribs
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Forthcoming: Distant Journey

#2 Post by Ribs » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:13 am

Revealed in this month’s newsletter.

Distant Journey
(Daleká cesta)
A film by Alfréd Radok


On Blu-ray and DVD May 2020



“Distant Journey is a masterpiece. [...] Like Orson Welles, Radok was a man of the theatre and his use of film form has a comparable audacity.”
Jim Hoberman, Village Voice


Made in 1948, just a few short years after the horrors it strives to process, Distant Journey is the first feature film to tackle the subject of the Holocaust, and was the debut film from the controversial avant-garde visionary of Czech theatre, Alfréd Radok.

Set in the Bohemian town of Terezín as the Nazi transports to German extermination camps began in earnest, Radok's vividly experimental film blends documentary footage with a fictional love story between a Jewish woman and her gentile husband. A mix of raw expressionist intensity and analysis, Distant Journey presents a harrowing account of the Nazi horrors of the recent past and remains a stark, ever-relevant warning from history.

Our region-free Blu-ray and DVD Special Edition features a new Projection Booth commentary featuring Mike White, Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan; and also includes two extraordinary short films: Butterflies Don't Live Here (Motýli tady nežijí, 1958), Miro Bernat's documentary about the Terezín ghetto; and The Opening of the Wells (Otvírání studánek, 1960), Alfréd Radok’s acclaimed film comprising the words of poet Miloslav Bureš and set to Bohuslava Martinů's cantata of the same name; plus a booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jonathan Owen.

“As much a revelation to all of us as were the films of Věra Chytilová, Miloš Forman, or Jan Němec [all of whom were profoundly influenced by this] tragically premature and anachronistic work of art.”
Josef Škvorecký, A Personal History of Czech Cinema


See the Trailer here

Order the Blu-ray now at Amazon UK

Order the DVD now at Amazon UK

Glowingwabbit
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Re: Distant Journey

#3 Post by Glowingwabbit » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:19 am

Oh wow! That will mean every film except All My Countrymen from 1998 poll of greatest Czech films will have an English friendly blu-ray. Of course Second Run already put out All My Countrymen on DVD so they will all be on home video now.

Edit: The List for reference (only considered US/UK releases):

1. Marketa Lazarová (1967) - Criterion/R1
2. The Shop on Main Street (1965) - Second Run/Region Free
3. All My Countrymen (1968) - SR DVD only
4. The Firemen's Ball - Arrow/Region Free
5. Intimate Lighting (1965) - SR/Region Free
6. Distant Journey (1949) - SR/Region Free
7 (tie) Diamonds of the Night (1964) - SR/Region Free & Criterion/R1
7 (tie) Closely Watched Trains (1966) - Arrow/Region Free
8. The Cremator (1968) - SR/Region Free & Criterion/R1
9. A Case for a Rookie Hangman (1969) - SR/Region Free
10. The Ear (1970) - SR/Region Free
Last edited by Glowingwabbit on Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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What A Disgrace
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Re: Forthcoming: Distant Journey

#4 Post by What A Disgrace » Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:49 pm

• Distant Journey (Daleká cesta,1949) presented from a brand new 4K restoration of the film from original materials by the Czech National Film Archive.
• All-new Projection Booth commentary with Mike White, Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger
• The Opening of the Wells (Otvírání studánek, 1960): Alfréd Radok s acclaimed short film inspired by a poem of Miloslav Bure and set to Bohuslava Martin 's cantata of the same name.
• Butterflies Don't Live Here (Motýli tady ne ijí, 1958) - a documentary film by Miro Bernat about the Terezín ghetto.
• Trailer
• Booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and film historian Jonathan Owen
• New and improved English subtitle translation.
• Region free Blu-ray
• Original soundtrack in 1.0 Mono / 2.0 Stereo LPCM (24-bit)

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MichaelB
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Re: Distant Journey

#5 Post by MichaelB » Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:05 pm

Glowingwabbit wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:19 am
Oh wow! That will mean every film except All My Countrymen from 1998 poll of greatest Czech films will be available on blu-ray.
That's also available on Blu-ray, but I don't believe it has English subtitles.

Glowingwabbit
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Re: Distant Journey

#6 Post by Glowingwabbit » Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:17 pm

MichaelB wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:05 pm
Glowingwabbit wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:19 am
Oh wow! That will mean every film except All My Countrymen from 1998 poll of greatest Czech films will be available on blu-ray.
That's also available on Blu-ray, but I don't believe it has English subtitles.
Oh I didn't realize that. Thanks. I edited my post to say English friendly since I was really only looking at those but didn't specify. Hopefully Second Run will do an upgrade at some point.

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L.A.
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Re: Forthcoming: Distant Journey

#7 Post by L.A. » Sun Apr 12, 2020 2:12 pm


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Bikey
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Re: Forthcoming: Distant Journey

#8 Post by Bikey » Mon May 11, 2020 12:03 pm

Full details of this release now up at our website

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Bikey
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#9 Post by Bikey » Fri May 22, 2020 10:21 am

"Impressively bold ... it feels fresh over 70-years on, even after the countless Holocaust dramas that have come since. So, not only was it one of the first, I believe it’s one of the best."
The forst review is in for Radok's DISTANT JOURNEY - from Blueprint Review

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Bikey
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#10 Post by Bikey » Mon May 25, 2020 8:51 am

Marking 75 years since the liberation of Terezín, Alfréd Radok's stark and still powerful warning from history DISTANT JOURNEY is OUT TODAY on Region-Free Blu-ray and DVD.

Order at Amazon UK, HMV UK and at our website.

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Bikey
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#11 Post by Bikey » Wed May 27, 2020 6:24 am

"Pioneering early Holocaust feature is a phenomenon of Czech cinema [...]
Distant Journey is a major achievement, making its return to circulation in this Second Run release, taken from a 2019 4K restoration that brings out the crazed darkness of the Terezin scenes, welcome indeed."

The Arts Desk

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Bikey
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#12 Post by Bikey » Sat May 30, 2020 9:40 am

"A stark, harrowing, and often strikingly experimental work that's certainly difficult to shake off when it's over. [...] The 2020 global Blu-ray debut from Second Run looks exceptional."

Mondo Digital

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Bikey
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#13 Post by Bikey » Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:58 am

"If you’ve not seen DISTANT JOURNEY before and are weighing whether yet another Holocaust film would be worth seeking out then rest assured that this particular movie commands to be seen as the genesis of its type. There was very little historical distance here, and that creates a fascinating document of its time. [...] The image is pristine. Detail and clarity are hugely impressive. The film looks, in short, spectacular."

Clydefro at CineOutsider

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Aunt Peg
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#14 Post by Aunt Peg » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:35 am

This is a blind-buy for me. Hopefully Second Run or some other enterprising distributor can release Wanda Jakubowska's Ostatni Etap (1948) (English title The Last Stop/The Last Stage).

It's another Polish film dealing with the Holocaust made very soon after the actual events.

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MichaelB
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#15 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:56 am

...and it's also just been restored, although Polish films are maddeningly difficult to license right now thanks to wholly unrealistic revenue expectations. But I'm keeping an eye out for an English-friendly Polish edition.

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Aunt Peg
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#16 Post by Aunt Peg » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:19 pm

MichaelB wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:56 am
...and it's also just been restored, although Polish films are maddeningly difficult to license right now thanks to wholly unrealistic revenue expectations. But I'm keeping an eye out for an English-friendly Polish edition.
Thanks for the update Michael. If you hear anything about an English friendly release please post. :D

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MichaelB
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#17 Post by MichaelB » Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:43 am

Do not, under any circumstances, buy the Polart DVD of The Last Stop - it's so appalling in every way (source, encode) that I even ripped the .vob files to see if there was any way I could make it even vaguely watchable, but sadly there wasn't. Like the very worst Facets discs, it seems to have taken an already imperfect ancient analogue PAL telecine and converted it to NTSC so ineptly that further problems ended up unremovably baked into the encode.

But as far as I'm aware, that's the only commercial DVD release that the film has had to date.

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L.A.
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#18 Post by L.A. » Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:07 am

Naked Among Wolves (1963) would be nice on Blu too.

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Aunt Peg
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#19 Post by Aunt Peg » Wed Jun 10, 2020 6:26 am

MichaelB wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:43 am
Do not, under any circumstances, buy the Polart DVD of The Last Stop - it's so appalling in every way (source, encode) that I even ripped the .vob files to see if there was any way I could make it even vaguely watchable, but sadly there wasn't. Like the very worst Facets discs, it seems to have taken an already imperfect ancient analogue PAL telecine and converted it to NTSC so ineptly that further problems ended up unremovably baked into the encode.

But as far as I'm aware, that's the only commercial DVD release that the film has had to date.
Thanks for the tip. I'll wait for a release that does the film justice. Haven't seen it in about 25 years and that was on the big screen.

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Bikey
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#20 Post by Bikey » Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:51 am


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Bikey
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#21 Post by Bikey » Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:51 pm

"This film is monumental, folks...
Alfréd Radok's Distant Journey is one of the most impacting Holocaust film I have ever seen... which would include Night and Fog, Schindler's List, Shoah, Diamonds of the Night (and many others.) It is totally unique from all those other films that I have seen. [...] I was totally blown away. The Second Run Blu-ray is a must-own. I feel honored to have seen the 4K restoration in 1080P in my home theater. An incredible experience. If you are debating about buying it my advice would be: "don't hesitate"."

Beaver

Calvin
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Re: 129 / BD 29 Distant Journey

#22 Post by Calvin » Sat Jun 27, 2020 4:48 am

Monumental is one word, I was blown away by it.

Distant Journey has been labelled as the first feature to tackle the subject of the Holocaust - a label would seem to be inaccurate, given Polish director and Auschwitz survivor Wanda Jakubowska's The Last Stage (Ostatni etap). Thankfully, Radok's solo debut feature isn't worth it just because it is (or, rather, isn't) 'the first Holocaust film'.

Hana (Blanka Waleská) is a doctor made unwelcome at her place of work on account of being Jewish. She has a romance with Tonik (Otomar Krejča), a gentile and fellow doctor, and they marry to try and mitigate the impact of the evils of Nazi anti-semitism on Hana and her family but, inevitably, Hana finds herself facing a struggle for survival in the Theresienstadt Ghetto.

Theresienstadt was a hybrid concentration camp/ghetto situated in the town of Terezin that served as a staging post to the death camps but was also supposed to look good and deceive the International Red Cross on their occasional inspections.

"It is understandable why visitors from outside were deceived, for the reality [of Terezin] could not be grasped by transient visitors since it remained beyond the grasp of the prisoners who lived amidst its confusion. They were bewildered, became bewildered, and their bewilderment further compounded the state of confusion. It went so far that reality itself was often no longer understood to be something present, but had rather decomposed into something impossible, something unreal."

- Theresienstadt 1941–1945, H.G. Adler

Radok had more experience in theatre than film, which perhaps explains why Distant Journey is still so fresh today - his direction is freewheeling, shrugging off what was de rigeour both technically and thematically; it would be banned in Czechoslovakia until the Velvet Revolution in the early 90s. The film uses picture-in-picture, repurposing and re-contextualising Leni Reifenstahl's Triumph of the Will and newsreel footage to juxtapose Hana's journey with the wider picture of the rise (and fall) of the Third Reich. Visual quotation within the frame decades before Jean-Luc Godard.

H.G. Adler, who survived the camp, would write his comprehensive 900-page study Theresienstadt 1941-1945 contemporaneously with the production of Radok's film. It wouldn't be published until 1955 and has never been fully translated into English. Bewilderment, confusion, decomposition into a state of unreality - captured horrifically and, dare I say, beautifully, by Radok's use of expressionist visuals which heighten until fever pitch is reached at the climax.

Radok himself was half-Jewish; his father perished in Theresienstadt. Contrary to Soviet prescription at the time, and differing from Jakubowska's The Last Stage, with Distant Journey he would emphasise that the Holocaust's primary target was the Jewish people. However, his depiction was not uncontroversial. Radok does not shy away from showing some of the victims as being submissive, even collaborative - Theresienstadt was ostensibly governed by Jewish self-administration - and Nazis are kept to a minimum in the film, though their presence is ever-present and, of course, emphasised by the aforementioned picture-in-picture. There are no guns, nor blood shed, in Distant Journey.

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