Blu-Ray Review: The Devil’s Trap

Martina and Jan in a cave

It seems a bizarre thing to say in the third decade of the twenty-first century, but the debate between evolution and creationism still seems to tax feeble minds. The friction between religion and science has been rumbling on for centuries. The former often used as a means of social control while the latter has been historically mistaken by the uneducated as magic or witchcraft. Superstition, power and jealousy all play a part in The Devil’s Trap.

Early-18th century Bohemia. A miller (Vítězslav Vejražka) uses his eyes and ears to inform his knowledge of the land. When this brings him into conflict with a rich and powerful landowner (Čestmír Řanda) he finds himself under suspicion from the inquisition. A priest (Miroslav Macháček) arrives to investigate and is determined to unmask his pact with the devil. Beginning by trying to set the locals against him. Meanwhile, his son Jan (Vít Olmer) pursues a romance with Martina (Karla Chadimová).

The Devil’s Trap is a fascinating historical epic which tackles the conflict between science and religion through a tale of jealousy, control and superstition. Metaphor and symbolism lay heavy in Frantisek Vlácil vibrant vision. Rudolf Milic’s stylish cinematography provides the tools to build up the narrative, from the ground up. The Devil’s Trap transports the viewer back into a dark and murky period, conjuring up and atmosphere of mistrusts and suspicion.

Special features:

  • The Devil’s Trap (Ďáblova past, 1961) presented from a new HD transfer from the best existing original materials, created by the Czech National Film Archive.
  • In the Web of Time (V síti času, 1989): cinematographer František Uldrich’s documentary portrait of Vláčil.
  • The Week Starts on Friday (Týden začíná v pátek, 1962): Elmar Kloss’ short film about Czech cinema exhibition in the early 1960s and which features The Devils Trap.
  • 20-page booklet featuring a new essay on the film by author and Czechoslovak cinema specialist Peter Hames.
  • New and improved English subtitle translation.
  • World premiere on Blu-ray.
  • Region-free Blu-ray (A/B/C)

The Devil’s Trap is released on Blu-ray by Second Run on 28 February.

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