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In Days of Old.,
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"Order of Teutonic Knights" was released in 1960 to international acclaim, and it remains a landmark film for Polish cinema. I'm sure that, when it first came out, it was quite a spectacular experience at the local theatre. Clocking in at just under three hours, it tells the tale of the rising conflict between Polish nobility in the Middle Ages and the very powerful multi-national order of titular knights who may be devout Christians, but are also ruthless in their determination to expand their power throughout Europe.
There are some excellent performances in the film, and a number of memorable scenes. It has a very authentic "look", quite a contrast to some of Hollywood's medieval epics. Special kudos to the prolonged final battle scene--there were no computer-generated effects in those days--you really are looking at thousands of extras in this spectacular finale. This must have been a very expensive movie for the Polish film industry.
Unfortunately there are some technical problems with the DVD which prevented me from giving "Knights" a higher rating. The dialogue is naturally in the original Polish with English subtitles--subtitles which far too often seem to be out of synch with the person who is speaking. The widescreen, colour image is not as crisp as it should be. There also appears to have been some "cropping"--for example, there is a scene early in the film where our young heroine is singing a song, and most of her head is "cut off". Unfortunately there are numerous other examples throughout the disc where heads, sometimes whole characters, seem to be missing from the scene. I also suspect that the film might not be the original, uncut version--there seem to be "jumps" in the storyline that cause the viewer to scratch his/her head a little !
Bottom line--it would seem that we have a very fine film here that has not been presented on DVD with the technical quality that it deserves. Then again, the problem may originate with the source material--older films sadly do not always remain in pristine condition. So--recommended with caution.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 29, 2008 11:32:57 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 7, 2009 8:36:34 AM PDT
Norm de Plume says:
KNIGHTS OF THE TEUTONIC ORDER (1960 - released in the USA from Amerpol in 1962) played at one of the long-since vanished art houses in Los Angeles in the 1960s and, in full Dyaliscope (2.35:1), it was a compelling experience. This Facets DVD and the release from Second Run in the U.K. do not do the film justice. Neither is in the proper aspect ratio, and the claim from Second Run is that their version is from "the only accessible source master," but it seems to be missing an opening that I recall from 40 years ago. I haven't seen the Facets version, but I can see from the tech notes above that it too is not in the correct aspect ratio. The film is aka KNIGHTS OF THE BLACK CROSS. Somewhere there must be a more complete print in 2.35:1. Anybody out there know more?
Posted on Mar 11, 2010 8:57:11 AM PST
Emile J. Roberts Jr. says:
I will sit through this film again but I have had problems finding the subtitles.The dvd lists in english, "Film" which I assume was for english subtitles, but none came up once the movie started. Anyone else deal with this problem?
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2010 6:45:32 AM PDT
M. Dalton says:
The English subtitles are in there, I think all the menus are in Polish so you kind of have to do some trial and error. But as the other reviewers pointed out, the subtitles are really messed up especially toward the middle of the film where they are almost a minute out of sync. Somebody really neees to remaster this DvD preferably with the correct aspect ratio because it's truly a great film. It's probably the best film ever made about the Medieval era in Europe, regardless of another other aspects to it. That alone would create a potentiaally huge audience, but the problems with the DvD make it relatively inaccessible.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2010 8:12:34 AM PDT
Many thanks for the comments. You have confirmed my suspicion that this is a classic film that has been ill-served by a shoddy DVD. Perhaps some day, the good folks at Criterion will obtain the rights, and release a DVD that is more worthy of this fine achievement in Polish cinema. We can only hope !
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2010 3:20:54 PM PDT
Emile J. Roberts Jr. says:
I did find the appropriate prompts and figure out how to activate the subtitles. I enjoyed the film both ways, I watched it at least six times both with and without subs. I found the period of history dealt with intriguing. If we in the West watch more art from the East I imagine we would know a whole lot more of what motivates the young eastern european. When he is introduces to us here in NYC, he seems so underprepared for the rigors of independent living and thinking . Thats my take on what the film aids me to understand.
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