Blu-Ray Review: A Case for a Rookie Hangman

One of the things which separates us humans from other animals is our boundless imagination (although, having said that I’ve known some extremely resourceful cats). Nowhere has this creativity and inventiveness flourished so much as in literature. Loosely based on the third book of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Pavel Juráček draws on the work of Franz Kafka and Louis Carroll for his film, A Case for a Rookie Hangman.

After getting lost on a country road, Lemuel Gulliver (lubomír Kostelka) ends up in a car accident. Escaping without injury, he suddenly finds himself transported through a door into a strange new world. As he proceeds on an unknown quest, which might revolve around the king of the flying island of Laputa, he comes face to face with a myriad of absurdities and nonsensical inventions.

A Case for a Rookie Hangman was an attack on the Czechoslovakian regime and was swiftly banned. It also signalled the end of Juráček’s directorial career. This early curtailment probably explains whilst he’s one of the lesser known Czech new wave filmmakers. However, he did co-write Chytilová’s Daises and Polák’s Ikarie XB1. A Case for a Rookie Hangman is frequently abstruse, merrily inventive, wilfully downbeat and joyously chaotic.

Special features:

• Presented from a new 4K restoration of the film from original materials by the Czech National Film Archive.
• Josef Kilián (Postava k podpírání): presented from a new 4K restoration of the film from original materials by the Czech National Film Archive.
• Two early short films co-written by Pavel Jurácek and directed by Jan Schmidt:
– Cars Without a Home (Auta bez domova, 1959)
– Black and White Sylva (Cernobílá Sylva, 1961)
• The Projection Booth podcast with Mike White, Kat Ellinger, Kevin Heffernan and Peter Hames.
• Trailer.
• Booklet featuring a new essay by writer and film historian Michael Brooke.
• Region Free Blu-ray (A/B/C)

A Case for a Rookie Hangman is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Second Run on 24 June.

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