Blu-Ray Review: Coach to Vienna

A widow seeking revenge and a soldier longing for home

Wars are not merely a simple case of good versus evil. While leaders like Hitler and Stalin might have been rotten to the core, soldiers are often there against their own will. Either conscripted into an army or forced to serve. History likes to tie events up in nice bows but anyone placed in a difficult situation, given a choice between your moral values and protecting your family, knows it’s not that simple. Coach to Vienna tells a more complicated story.

Krista (Iva Janzurová) is a Czech widow whose husband was executed by the Nazi occupiers. As World War II draws towards a close, a young Austrian soldier (Jaromír Hanzlík) arrives at her home and demands that she transport him and his injured comrade (Ludek Munzar) across the border to his homeland. They set out in her horse and trap, tension bristling between them as they travel through the seemingly endless forest.

Banned on release for its unconventional portrayal of good and bad, Coach to Vienna remained unseen for twenty years. It remains an enthralling and harrowing war drama. While she plots revenge from the get-go, the relentlessly friendly Hans slowly wears her down. However, lines have already been drawn in the sand. Karel Kachyna’s film doesn’t look for easy answers. Driven by a wonderful performance from Janzurová, Coach to Vienna is a powerful and thoughtful morality piece.

Special edition contents:

• Coach to Vienna (Kočár do Vídně, 1966) presented from an HD transfer of the new 4K restoration by the Czech National Film Archive.

• It’s Not Always Cloudy (Není stále zamračeno, 1949): Karel Kachyňa’s rediscovered feature-length semi-documentary graduation film, co-directed by Vojtěch Jasný.

• A Projection Booth audio commentary with film historians Mike White, Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger.

• Trailer.

• Image gallery.

• 20-page booklet featuring a new essay on the film by writer Jonathan Owen.

• New and improved English subtitle translation.

• World premiere on Blu-ray.

• Region-free Blu-ray (A/B/C)

Coach to Vienna is released on Blu-ray by Second Run on 28 March.

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