Blu-ray Review: Invention for Destruction

Whilst Karel Zeman may have only made six full length ‘live action’ films, every one of them is a meticulously crafted work of art. Between 1955 and 1970, emancipated by the imagination of Jules Verne and his fantastical worlds, he melded his masterpieces with animation to create tales which thrill and beguile. He inspired the likes of Terry Gilliam, Jan Švankmajer and Tim Burton and fascinated generations of children throughout the world. Invention for Destruction was probably his greatest achievement.

Professor Roch (Arnošt Navrátil) is working in secret on his greatest discovery. Whilst he sees it as a step forward for mankind, his assistant Simon Hart (Lubor Tokoš) is concerned of the damage it could cause in the wrong hands. When Roch is kidnapped by a group of pirates, led by the unscrupulous Captain Spade (František Šlégr), the young engineer must save his colleague and ensure that the weapon of mass destruction doesn’t fall into the hands of the Machiavellian Count Artigas (Miloslav Holub).

Based largely on Verne’s late 19th century novel Facing the Flag, Invention for Destruction (or The Fabulous World of Jules Verne as it was called in the West) is a beautiful and frightening vision of what scientific progress can do in the wrong hands. By recreating the original Victorian line engravings, Zeman sculpts a mix of daring adventure and fantastical visuals to produce a film which will resonate across the generations.

Special features:

• Presented from a brand new 4K restoration of the film from original materials.
• Alternative English-dubbed feature presentation as The Fabulous World of Jules Verne, with alternate credits and opening introduction sequence.
• A new appreciation by filmmaker and animator John Stevenson, director of Kung Fu Panda and Sherlock Gnomes
• Two of Karel Zeman’s exquisite short films – animated films: Inspiration (1949) and King Lavra (1950) (Blu-ray exclusive)
• Featurettes: Why Zeman Made the Film; Zeman’s Special Effects Techniques; Restoring the World of Fantasy; About the Restoration
• Trailer
• Booklet featuring new writing on the film by film critic and historian James Oliver
• Region free Blu-ray

Invention for Destruction is released on Blu-ray or DVD by Second Run on 17 November.

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