Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films
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One Spectacular DVD Box Set Janus Films opened American viewers eyes to the pleasures of Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, and François Truffaut at the height of their artistic powers. Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this world-renowned distribution company with Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films, an expansive collectors box set featuring fifty classic films on DVD and a lavishly illustrated hardcover book that tells the story of Janus Films through an essay by film historian Peter Cowie, a tribute from Martin Scorsese, and notes on each of the fifty films.
Eight Academy Awards
Twenty-eight Academy Award nominations
Two Palme dor awards
The 200-page book provides context for the films and is worth reading in its own right. Martin Scorcese offers a brief and celebratory introduction, reminiscing about the thrill of seeing the antiquated Janus Films logo when attending a movie in one of New York City's art house theaters. Film historian Peter Cowie's essay about the history of art house cinema in America casts light on how films by directors like Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman first found American audiences. These days it's easy to take for granted our access to films from around the globe, but in the early 20th century it was only due to the efforts of a passionate few that these great films found theatrical life in the United States. Many of these films, particularly those from Europe, boasted more liberal attitudes about such things as sex and war, facing the threat of censorship and hostility from Hollywood-fed audiences who weren't accustomed to considering films as works of art. Janus Films evolved as a way to bridge these cultural gaps, introducing Americans to foreign sensibilities and big-screen stories that transcended language.
What DVDs Are Included?
The DVDs presented represent the cream of the crop of the Janus Films catalog, and the best of the Criterion Collection's bar-setting technical sophistication. Six of the films are being debuted on DVD on the occasion of the set's release, though they may be released separately later. These include Fires on the Plain, The Fallen Idol, Pandora's Box, Le Jour Se Leve, Miss Julie, and Three Documentaries by Saul J. Turell. Fans of copious extra features should take note--the discs contain only the films themselves. Those wishing to dig into the two bonus discs of material offered with Criterion's latest release of Seven Samurai, say, won't find that opportunity here. As for the selection of films, cinephiles may get into arguments about what's included and what's not, but any film school student would be far ahead of the game by devouring these fifty films. The treasures are listed below. --Ryan Boudinot
ALEXANDER NEVSKY (1938)
ASHES AND DIAMONDS (1958)
BALLAD OF A SOLDIER (1959)
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1946)
BLACK ORPHEUS (1959)
BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945)
THE FALLEN IDOL (1948)
FIRES ON THE PLAIN (1959)
FISTS IN THE POCKET (1965)
FLOATING WEEDS (1959)
FORBIDDEN GAMES (1952)
THE 400 BLOWS (1959)
GRAND ILLUSION (1937)
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (1952)
IVAN THE TERRIBLE, PART II (1958)
LE JOUR SE LÈVE (1939)
JULES AND JIM (1962)
KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (1949)
KNIFE IN THE WATER (1962)
THE LADY VANISHES (1938)
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (1943)
LOVES OF A BLONDE (1965)
M. HULOT'S HOLIDAY (1953)
MISS JULIE (1951)
PANDORA'S BOX (1929)
PÉPÉ LE MOKO (1937)
IL POSTO (1961)
RASHOMON (1950) RICHARD III (1955)
THE RULES OF THE GAME (1939)
SEVEN SAMURAI (1954)
THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957)
THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (1973)
LA STRADA (1954)
THE THIRD MAN (1949)
THE 39 STEPS (1935)
UMBERTO D. (1952)
THE VIRGIN SPRING (1960)
THE WAGES OF FEAR (1953)
THE WHITE SHEIK (1952)
WILD STRAWBERRIES (1957)
THREE DOCUMENTARIES BY SAUL J. TURELL
Top Customer Reviews
1) the widescreen movies are anamorphic
2) Haxen is 104 min, substantially longer than the 77 min version that has shown on premium cable.
3) I compared the Janus versions of two films, Wages of Fear and Seven Samurai, with the Criterion versions I had. I expected them to be identical (figuring that Criterion probably did the work for Janus) but they were considerably different. In both cases, the Janus copies were amazingly superior: much better (and louder)sound, crisper images with fewer defects, much better definition in shadowy areas, and a much more stable image. I never realized how poor the Criterion prints were until I saw the comparison. It's amazing the psychological effect of all that. In both cases, I was strongly tempted to continue watching the whole film with Janus, and found the Criterion copy 'tiring'. The translations also differed, with Janus having fewer errors (e.g. Samurai's "the rice we're eating now" v.s. "the rice we're eating, how"). I cannot wait to watch the rest of these films.
3. I could detect no difference between Anchor Bay's and Janus's Kind Hearts and Coronets.
4. The print of Lady Vanishes is the clearest I've seen. The el cheapo Brentwood print, in their Hitchcock collection, is unwatchable.
5. The one really bad aspect of the collection is that the DVDs are wedged tightly into paper slots.Read more ›
Soviet-Stalinist propaganda of the period. No viewer can truly understand this film without understanding that reality.
In its scope and production value one is reminded of a simlier film done in Facist Italy around this time celebrating the exploits of Ancient Rome - "Scipio Africanus." Both films draw on inspirational leaders of the past to serve up useful propaganda for the present.
In this film Rus is besiged on all sides by enemies. The Mongols had conquiered much of the land by this time. To the West there are the Crusading Teutonic Knights seeking to exercise a Lebenstraum of their own in the 13th Century. Nevsky, a local prince seems the natural leader that the great city of Novgorod needs. Again, we see nationalistic ideas expressed here that were surely beyond the outlook of the time. Few could have had any notion of a greater Rus in such Feudal times. For Eisenstein's propaganda we must have a strong and inspirational Alexander Nevsky. The actor who plays him is certainly impressive looking, but hardly any great thespian!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sound quality is disappointing (1938), but seeing the film in tandem with the music is the only way to go. Then you can find a modern recording of the Suite, and 'get it. Read morePublished 6 days ago by You mean she's NOT Irish?
Story of a valiant defense by Medieval Russians against crusading and very nasty European crusader knights. Kind of camp now.Published 20 days ago by Joel Weichs
Though this film was produced in the Soviet Union in 1938 about events in 1242, its story of heroism and courage is still relevant today!Published 7 months ago by Ben Jobe
A classic. Music is a bit faint - turn up the volume.Published 10 months ago by Clifton W. McCullough
I loved the movie. Also, I can sound like I'm saying Russian.Published 10 months ago by Jerry A. Katz
An important history-based film that resulted in a glorious musical score. Parse the accuracy if you want; that's possible for any work of art that depicts history. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Harold Ford
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