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The Saragossa Manuscript
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During Napoleon's invasion of Spain, two soldiers discover a strange manuscript at an Inn. The book chronicles the adventures of Alfonso van Worden (Zbigniew Cybulski - Ashes and Diamonds). Alfonso's passage through the dangerous Sierra Morena Mountains is repeatedly interrupted by seemingly random encounters with an assortment of larger than life figures. Tunisian princesses inform Alfonso that he is their cousin and their betrothed; an occult scholar ensnares Alfonso with confounding stories about feuds between Merchants and hardships faced by gypsies. And of course, Alfonso never did expect the Spanish Inquisition.
Adapted from explorer Jan Potocki's magnum opus, Wojciech J. Has's The Saragossa Manuscript is a major cult film of the 1960s. Its admirers include film-makers Luis Buñuel and David Lynch as well as musician Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. Its approach to storytelling, admiringly described by comics artist Neil Gaiman as 'a labyrinth inside a maze', features stories within stories; alternatively frightening and comical in its mind-bending exploration of human nature.
En même temps horribles, érotique et drôle ... c'est une mère d'un film - David Lynch
contraindre flou dans une vision surréaliste comique d'un monde dans lequel réalité et l'imaginaire se confondent - NY Times <br /
> Le lancement du film le plus passionnant de cette décennie --Time Out
Compelling blur into a surreal comic vision of a world in which reality and fantasy are indistinguishable --NY Times
The launch of the most exciting movie this decade --Time Out
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During the Napoleonic wars in Spain, two soldiers from opposing sides become fascinated by the same object. A French officer finds a manuscript on the second floor of a tavern, but the town is soon captured by the Spanish. The Spaniard, seeing the importance of the tome, translates it to the Frenchman who is unable to read the book as it is written in Spanish. The book describes the adventures of one of the Spaniard's ancestors, Alfonse Van Worden (Zbigniew Cybulski). Humorously, when the Spanish troops tell their commander 'we are being surrounded' he only tells them 'close the door, you are letting in a draft.'
Alfonse Van Worden is trying to pass the Sierra Morena Mountains of Spain in the 18th century on his way to Madrid. But his passage is no simple task, as ghosts, gypsies and inquisitors complicate his voyage. On the hillside is an inn that is cared for by people who too afraid to spend the night there themselves. Van Worden disregards the superstitious people, only to be taken to a basement of the inn by a mysterious woman. In the basement, he meets two beautiful Moorish princesses that want him to be their husband, but quickly make him drink from a chalice made from a human skull.Lire la suite ›
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The disc looks wonderful, video is in a stunning 2x1 black white anamorphic video taken from Wojciech Has' original and only complete print of the film. Some washing can be seen in the begining outdoor shots but this can also be from the original lighting. Burn marks are still evident for signifying the reel changes but this does not take away from the picture quality itself, little or no artifacting is present and some very minor and almost unnoticeable scratches in a few sequences. Overall a pretty darn good video presentation.
Sound is a Dolby Digital mono track in Polish - voices (especially the Gypsy chief) are much more robust if the subwoofer is turned up. There is also an isolated soundtrack also in Dolby Digital mono which is a mixture of the actual score and the many sounds that Krysysztof Pendericki (he also did the scores for the Shining and The Exorcist)used for an otherworldly feel in the film. English removeable subtitles are also present.
Rounding off extra features are filmographies and an extremly brief (8 or so) still gallery.
Overall a great deal for the money, especially for a film which had a limited release here in the states in the mid 60's and then disappeared until the late 90's only for another limited release. Do yourself a favor and see this film - you've never seen anything like it before and probably never will again. Words can't bring you into the full depth of the plot and its many convolutions, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
In the middle of a battle in Spain during the Napoleonic wars, two soldiers from opposite sides are suddenly entranced by a manuscript. They sit together like brothers, and begin to read the story of a captain of the Waloon Guards trying to cross the mountains into Spain -- over and over again, he has experiences with two ghosts? demons? whatever? in the form of two beautiful women who express love for him. Over and over, he wakes up under a gallows with corpses. Very creepy. As he tries to get over the high pass for the next few days, we experience with him the stories he tells, along with the stories of people he meets, and stories of people within those stories, and stories of people within the stories of the people who are within the stories . . . . oh forget all that. This is one movie that just has to be seen to be believed. It is well worth the 3 hours. It is hard to explain how a movie can be frightening, funny, mysterious, etc, all at the same time. So just see it! ADDENDUM - one week later: I should mention that for two nights after I saw this, I had terrible nightmares. Then, a few nights ago, my husband finally saw the movie, and had the first terrifying nightmare of his life (in his dream, he woke up under the gallows where the hero is often awakening in this film). So, those of you who are familiar with the story will understand just how disconcerting that may be -- given the role of dreams within this movie. So, I wanted to add that you should only see this movie if you can handle that it attaches itself to some deep architypes, and may have distressing effects!
It's the story of a Spanish nobleman that has to get home fast. Against his better judgement he chooses the fastest route, crossing a mysterious land where strange things happen. Everything seems normal during the day, but at night the world is transformed and improbable characters materialize around him to entice him and tell him stories.
The defining characteristic of the film is the story within the story. Characters within a story rather quickly launch into yet another story until you realize you are many levels away from your starting point. A unique narrative experience. The movie manages to keep each single story interesting and leaves room for many surprises as stories interrelate in unexpected ways.
For the viewer there is a mounting conflict: wanting to get closure on previous stories while thoroughly enjoying the current one. Will the stories unravel back to the beginning? Either way this film does not disappoint.