INVENTION FOR DESTRUCTION
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