Top Bar
Musique Machine Logo Home ButtonReviews ButtonArticles ButtonBand Specials ButtonAbout Us Button
SearchGo Down
Search for  
With search mode in section(s)
And sort the results by
show articles written by  
 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Beauty And The Beast - Beauty And The Beast( Blu Ray) [Second Run - 2021]

Beauty And The Beast (aka Panna a netvor) is a 1978 Czech take on the classic fairy tale- and it’s a much darker, both figuratively and visually, take on the story. It features a barbaric ‘n’ schizophrenic bird man-monster as the beast-  it’s set around a doomed forest and decaying castle, and the whole thing is edged with horror touches and erotic suggestions. Here from Second Run is a recent Blu Ray release of the film, bringing together a commentary track and the labels normal classy presentation.
 

Beauty And The Beast (aka Panna a netvor) was directed by Kezmarok, Czechoslovakia born Juraj Herz- who has twenty-six feature-length credits to his name. These went surreal horror film The Cremator(1969) which followed a demented cremator in WW2, onto gothic melodrama/parody Morgiana (1972), through to mafioso crime comedy Bulldogs And Cherries( 1981),  and bloodsucking car horror mystery Ferat Vampire(1982). The Beauty And The Beast is a wonderful scoped and realized film- shifting between sweaty ‘n’ grimy, and decaying gothic- with moments of dreamy opulent grandeur ,bloody ‘n’ brutal horror, and a dark ‘n’ glum nature-focus.
 
The Beauty and The Beast story originates from a 1740  story by female author Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve under the title La Belle et la Bête. Since then, it’s received thirteen big-screen adaptations, with the most known being the Disney version- which appeared as a cartoon in 1991, then a live-action version in 2017. I’ve of course seen the Disney versions, and a few others over the years- but is certainly the most darkly gothic and lightly horror-tinged version of the story.
 
The film initially focuses on mid-age and down on his luck merchant Otec(Václav Voska), who one day on his travels through a barren and snow heavy forest comes across a seemingly abandoned and badly decaying castle. He goes in taking shelter, a drink appears for him, as does a knife to cut the roast pig on the fire, and he fairly soon sleeps. When he awakes he finds the table covered with jewels and gold coins, thanking his fleeting in the shadows benefactor. Just as he is about to leave he sees a bush of white roses and decides to pick one for his youngest daughter- as he does and a large bird crawl like hand rests on his shoulder. This is Netvor(Vlastimil Harapes) the cursed owner of the castle- he is a bizarre crossbreed between bird, monster, and man- and as you’d expect with this type of thing you don’t get a full sight of him until later on in the story. Netvor threatens to kill Otec, unless he gets one of his three daughters to come and spend time with him in his castle. He arrives back home asking his daughters if one will go and stay in the castle, and pretty much straight away Julie(Zdena Studenková) the youngest, more caring, and less brat-ish of the sisters is on her way. When arriving at the castle, we start into the expected Beauty and The Beast story trope of the beast not showing himself but seemingly been besotted with Julie. But there’s a twist Netvor is schizophrenic, with one side of his personality telling him to kill and eat Julie.
 
Aside from the darker, more deviously twists on the story the other thing that’s most intriguing/ fascinating about the film is its art/ set design/ locations. We go from the very real creepy and stark forest, which is either deep in snow and shadow, or misty and eerie silence. Onto the castle and its surrounding grounds- the building itself is full of cobwebbed and deep dust corridors, that are lit by long dripping candelabras and chandeliers. Inside we have wonderfully unsettling items like a four-poster bed, that is held up by humanoid figures, who depart once someone is inside the bed, and a selection of dwarf-like demons who pour drinks, light fires and do other things around the house. The grounds are made up dead overgrown plants, blacken bubbling pools and are in a general state of decay. At moments I get very Herzog like vibes too- at one point we get a grimy and sweaty retake on the marching down the hillside shot from Aguirre, the Wrath of God, with gothic carriages, mud, people been dragged along, and falling of both people and riches down a dark and dangerous cliffside to a wild and dusk engulfed river. Some of the castles look, and the general forlorn feel of the film brings to mind Nosferatu the Vampyre, and much of the period dress and glum period detail brought to mind The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser. Though that said we also have fairy tale/ magical traits weaved in too- for example, Netvor has the power to show Julie her father/ sisters from afar, and we get the expected transformation too. On the whole, I was very much taken by this version of this classic story, and if you enjoy darker/ grimmer more nasty takes on classic fairy tales you will too.
 
 
Moving onto this new Blu Ray, and it’s a region free disc. We get an HD transfer from the print in the Czech national film archive, and while it’s still a little aged/ grainy/ pocked marked in places, it is largely a well-balanced print, with good detail in the darker/ more murky moments of the film. On the extras front, we get a commentary track from The Projection Booth, which brings together genre experts/ critics Kat Ellinger, Samm Deighan, and Mike White. This is most interesting/ rewarding, as the three go from talking about how darker fairy tale films didn’t hit British language film until the ’80s, moving onto discuss the other adaptions of  Beauty and The Beast, and how/ why this one is different. They talk about the films erotic undertones, how the film fits in with Juraj Herz other output, and how he is one of the few directors in the Czech new wave whose work moves towards horror. They discuss unsettling fairy tales, and how this film very much plays into that setting. They talk about the aged/ decaying set design, debate the meaning of the voice that talks to the beast, and much more- like all of the tracks I’ve heard from The Projection Booth this is wonderful well researched, and most interesting, yet never stuffy or dryly scholarly track. We get František Hrubín a 1964 nine-minute short regarding the poet/ writer who wrote the film's screenplay. And as always with Second Run films release we have a glossy inlay booklet- this runs twenty pages featuring new writing about the film from author/ film historian Jonathan Owen, film stills, and of course full credits.
 

Simply put Beaty And The Beast (aka Panna a netvor) is a wonderfully dark & gloomily surreal retake on this classic fairy tale. The film is overflowing with atmosphere, subtly creepy touches, and a feeling of shadowy enchantment. As always Second Run has done a splendid job with this release, and I can see it appealing above and beyond the label normal arthouse audience as it’s such a darkly spellbinding film- that will appeal to anyone who enjoys darker/ grimmer hued fairy tales. To pick up a copy direct from Second Run head here.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Roger Batty
Latest Reviews

Beauty And The Beast - Beauty And...
Beauty And The Beast (aka Panna a netvor) is a 1978 Czech take on the classic fairy tale- and it’s a much darker, both figuratively and visually, take ...
170822   Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dr...
160822   Elsinore - Slow Murk Façade
160822   RJ Myato - Itchy Blood
160822   Den Sorte Dĝd - Undergangen
150822   Layman/godNOISEgod - No Name
150822   Rafael Anton Irisarri - Agit...
150822   Worship - The Stare
120822   Whiplash - The Roadrunner Years
120822   The Last Son - The Last Son( ...
120822   Columbia Noir #5:Humphrey Bog...
Latest Articles

The Night Porter & Slowgurn proje...
The walled noise scene, within the UK, is sadly rather small, but it’s certainly growing. And one of the key figures in this growth is Hertfordshire-ba...
020822   The Night Porter & Slowgurn p...
200622   The Worse Album In The World ...
240522   Noir On Powerhouse Films - Fr...
260422   Schloss Tegal - Back To The ...
230322   The Residents - Fifty Years ...
170222   Dave Phillips - The Humanimal...
270122   Glemt - Dark and Deranged Spi...
211221   Best Of 2021 - Music, Sound &...
211221   Koobaatoo Asparagus - Califor...
011221   Anti-Worlds Releasing - Cinem...
Go Up
(c) Musique Machine 2001 -2017. Celebrating 16 years of true independence!! Mail Us at questions=at=musiquemachine=dot=comBottom