With a strategy of expanding our offerings in the vein of genre cinema, we now present a DVD edition (published by the Belgian Cinematek) of 3 movies by the (husband and wife) director/screenwriter team Jan Vanderheyden and Edith Keil. A key figure who emerged in the early sound era to dominate a nascent Flemish cinema, Jan Vanderheyden realized the commercial and cultural potential of domestic production geared to regional and ethnolinguistic tastes. DE WITTE (WHITEY, 1934) was based on a popular picaresque novel by Ernest Claes, whose story concerned a rebellious young man whose heroic fantasies clash with his mundane existence. After securing financial support from banks, Vanderheyden shot the film mostly in Berlin (since no studios yet existed in Flanders), while adding a limited amount of Flemish location work. The dialogue eschewed Flemish dialect in favor of standard Dutch.
This charming film would remain the biggest success in Flemish cinema for decades, and enabled the filmmaking team to make nine films in the following five years, using studios in Amsterdam. Their second movie, the romantic operetta ALLEEN VOOR U (ONLY FOR YOU, 1935), was made with the same technical skills. However, it was considered too exotic by film critics. Vanderheyden and Keil opened a studio in Antwerp in 1939, and shifted their focus to concentrate on a series of inexpensively produced, popular films, full of banter, marital disputes and music. SCHIPPERSKWARTIER (THE SAILORS QUARTER, 1953) was their most important post-war success.
Around the time of production of THE SAILORS QUARTER (1953), widescreen processes were taking hold in the United States (THIS IS CINERAMA, 1952). Kinopanorama, developed in the mid-1950s, was the Russian equivalent of this process. Photographed over an eight-year period by Russia’s top filmmakers, CINERAMA’S RUSSIAN ADVENTURE (1966) brings together some of the most beautiful sequences edited together from over six Soviet Kinopanorama productions, the Russian equivalent of three-panel Cinerama, the film’s locations stretch from one end of Russia to the other. Bing Crosby narrates the journey, offering both a grand and intimate view of a country and culture so often cited and yet so seldom seen at the time of the film’s release. This grand travelogue of Russian includes scenes of Moscow, the Black Sea, the Volga River, a reindeer-sled race, log rafting on the Tisza River, new Siberian settlements, and antelope roundups and whale hunts. Included are scenes from famed cultural attractions: the Bolshoi Theater Ballet, Moscow State Circus, Moiseyev Ensemble, Platnirsky State Chorus and Dance Ensemble and Bolshoi Theater Orchestra.
This Blu-ray/DVD combo edition features ample bonus material, including an original theatrical trailer for the film, additional shorts shot in the Cinerama process, interviews and information about restoration of the film, slide shows, and a facsimile representation of the original program booklet.
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