Czechoslovakia, 1964
Length / A Jester's Tale:
81 minutes
Sound: Original mono (restored)
Black and white
Original aspect ratio:
1.85:1 / 16:9 anamorphic
Language: Czech
Subtitles: English On/Off
Region 0
RRP: £12.99
buyRelease Date: 15 Sept 2014
Second Run DVD 089

Visionary Czech filmmaker Karel Zeman is recognised as one of the great masters of 20th Century fantasy cinema for his innovative combination of live-action and animation, along with the use of ingenious special effects. Often described as the 'Czech Méliès', his work has been a profound influence on generations of filmmakers from Jan Švankmajer to Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam to the Quay Brothers and Wes Anderson.

A Jester's Tale is one of Zeman's most celebrated achievements. Described by Zeman as a 'pseudo-historical' film, it is a bold anti-war black comedy following the adventures of a ploughboy and a mercenary, press-ganged into service on the battlefields of the devastating Thirty Years' War of 1618 - 1648.

Co-scripted by Pavel Jurácek (Ikarie XB 1, Daisies, Josef Kilián), this startlingly inventive film emerges as a sharp satire on war, human nature and of the way we perceive history itself.

The DVD is presented in a new anamorphic digital transfer with restored picture and sound and features a new essay on the film by writer and book editor Ian Haydn Smith.

more about the film

Blonde Stills

Special Features

• Presented from a new anamorphic digital transfer with restored picture and sound.

• New and improved English subtitle translation.

• 12-page booklet featuring a new essay by writer and book editor Ian Haydn Smith.

• Released for the first time ever in the English-speaking world.

Related Titles

Petr Kostka - Petr
Emília Vášáryová - Lenka
Miroslav Holub - Matěj
Valentina Thielová - Veronika
Karel Effa - Varga
Eva Šenková - Countess


Directed by Karel Zeman

Story - Karel Zeman
Screenplay - Karel Zeman, Pavel Juráček
Director of Photography - Václav Huňka
Music - Jan Novák
Art director - Zdeněk Rozkopal
Editor - Miroslav Hájek
Sound - Roman Hloch
Costumes - Jiří Jaška
Visual effects/animation - Arnost Kupcík, Frantisek Krcmár
Special effects - Zdeněk Ostrčil, Josef Zeman
Producer - Josef Ouzký




1964 San Francisco International Film Festival /
Winner: Best Picture

1964 San Francisco International Film Festival /
Winner: Best Director

1964 Addis Ababa International Film Festival / Winner: Best Film

1965 Cannes Festival of Films for Children / Winner: Best Film

1969 Sitges International Film Festival / Winner: Best Film

"Zeman's films are unique glimpses into forgotten worlds of myth, invention and exploration. One almost needs a telescope to view them" Peter Strickland

"Karel Zeman and Ray Harryhausen were the two big inspirations for me… what Zeman did was amazing"
Tim Burton

"A gloriously stylised blend of live-action and animation that considers the attitudes of conscripts fighting for a cause in which they have little conviction... this visually stunning and politically acerbic tale is absolutely mesmerising"
David Parkinson, Radio Times

"Channelling the joyfully inventive spirit of Georges Méliès, the film unfolds in a continually surprising delight of visual invention, in which extreme ingenuity mixes with whimsicality" Graeme Hobbs, MovieMail

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