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The greatest Czech movie ever? Perhaps....
Criterion / 165 Minutes / 1967 / Unrated / Street Date: June 18, 2013
Regularly cited as arguably the best Czech film ever made (Criterion even heralds this on this Blu-ray edition’s back cover), Marketa Lazarova is a bold, expansive, challenging piece of work, an experiment in broad-stroke cinematic storytelling that is as difficult to pin down as it is easy to appreciate. In short, it’s a perfect addition to the Criterion library – there’s never been a film quite like it.
That comes with both positive and negative connotations, though. The film’s most immediate asset is its provocative syntax and filmic construction. There are sequences at hand here that are cut together with a bold reject of formality that really spin the material in weird and wonderful ways. The trouble with this medieval clan saga is that it feels longer than its 165-minute running time: this is a taxing, exhaustive endeavor that isn’t without its merits, but it’s tough to get through in one sitting.
But as yet another fantastically unique release from Criterion, Marketa Lazarova absolutely earns its stripes. The movie comes to high-definition with Criterion’s predictable fluidity, and the supplements included are illuminating looks behind the film, its creation process, and its sustained reputation in the annals of world cinema. It’s a movie that might be more contextually intriguing than it is dramatically engrossing, but it’s still a helluva ride.