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re­leased OUT NOW! 1958 | U | Blu-ray/dVd

Di­rec­tor Karel Ze­man Cast lu­bor Tokoš, arnošt Navrátil, Miloslav Holub

For all the so­phis­ti­ca­tion of mod­ern spe­cial ef­fects, the work of cer­tain past masters can still trump them for magic. Ray Har­ry­hausen’s name may spring to mind; Karel Ze­man’s should too, for this stylised trib­ute to Jules Verne – one of a string of fan­tasy fea­tures the Czech di­rec­tor made in the ’50s and ’60s – is breath­tak­ing.

By in­ge­nious use of a plethora of tech­niques – glass paint­ings, cutout an­i­ma­tion, stop-mo­tion, just run­ning a rub­ber roller with lines scored on it over the sets – Ze­man con­jures the look of 19th cen­tury en­graved il­lus­tra­tions come to life. Prac­ti­cally ev­ery shot is an ef­fects shot; all have the charm of some­thing lov­ingly hand-crafted.

Based on Verne’s 1896 novel Fac­ing The Flag (but adding other Ver­nesque el­e­ments, like a sub­ma­rine and gi­ant oc­to­pus), the plot isn’t that thrilling, with a pro­fes­sor kid­napped to work on a world-men­ac­ing su­per­gun. But you’ll be too busy gog­gling, slack-jawed to care.

Ex­tras Amer­i­can dub The Fab­u­lous World Of Jules Verne; an ap­pre­ci­a­tion by Kung Fu Panda di­rec­tor John Steven­son (16 min­utes); three short pieces from Prague’s Karel Ze­man Mu­seum (seven min­utes); a restora­tion com­par­i­son; mu­seum promo; trailer; book­let. The Blu-ray adds two of Ze­man’s early an­i­mated shorts (41 min­utes). Ian Berri­man

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