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Reviews & Ratings for
The Deadly Invention More at IMDbPro »Vynález zkázy (original title)

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35 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

A Wonderful Film

Author: Brian Washington ( from Los Angeles, California
9 July 2003

This is one film that I wish they would start showing on television again. When I was a child, I really was knocked out by the special effects. I'm a sucker for any film that combines live action with animation and this film is no exception. What really made me take notice was how the sets reminded me of the pages of a book and how the characters were almost like the illustrations come to life. This is definitely a lost classic and I hope one day that it will be shown on television once again.

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29 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Extraordinary film!!

Author: oigres from Burlington, Ontario
20 December 1999

An interesting movie based on three of Jules Verne's novels. Considering the special effects and computer enhanced animation of today, this movie stands as an historic marker of cinematic resourcefulness and imagination. Karel Zeman has brought to life the lithographic images of the original Jules Verne texts. this is a must see for classic science fiction and history buffs.

I give this movie 9 out of 10. Enjoy!!

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21 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

"Facing the Flag" - the Roche "Fulgarator"

Author: theowinthrop from United States
29 April 2004

Some movies used to be shown so often on television, due to crazy broadcast schedules or rental packages. Back in the 1960s and 1970s (early 1970s) this film popped up usually on Channel 9 in New York City. Sometimes another film like this, THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN, would pop up as well. Both were made in Czechoslavakia in the late 1950s. The director designed the films to look like a 19th Century "moving" picture book (the sort that the reader, usually a child, would move by shifting small paper switches by pulling or pushing them. The film's backgrounds looked like the illustrations in Verne's novels, by illustrators like Edward Riou. Only the actors were real actors. Among moments that remain in my memory are the sinking of a ship by a submarine (a la TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA), and a battle between two submarines. I say moments in my memory because I have not seen any rebroadcast of this film on television since the early 1970s, and it has not come out on Video (or DVD for that matter).

Although it borrows from other novels of Verne's the basis for this film is an 1896 novel, which in English is titled FACING THE FLAG. The only edition of the novel that has appeared in recent years was published by ACE books back in the late 1970s, under the editorship of Verne scholar I.O.E. Evans, and retitled FOR THE FLAG. Evans explains that the novel was influenced by Verne's knowledge of a controvertial French scientist named Turpin who got into legal problems when he could not sell an explosive to the French Government, and then tried to sell it abroad. The anti-hero in the novel, Thomas Roche, has gone mad when his proposed weapon, called "the Fulgarator" is rejected (and he is laughed at) by the French authorities. He is being watched by a government agent, as the government slowly reevaluates it's position. But Roche and the agent are kidnapped by one of the last pirates on the globe (Count Artigas in the story). The Count helps Roche build a working model of the weapon (which is a type of missile, that flies off a track after a rocket fuel is added). The Count intends to use it to blackmail governments around the globe. The crisis at the end of the novel is whether the bitter and mad Roche will be willing to use his weapon against the ships of his homeland, France.

It is not a major Verne tale, but it is readable (not all of his novels are still readable). And the basic plot is followed in this film version. It is a wonderful movie to watch - and one hopes one day to see it on television, video, or DVD again.

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22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

A Masterpiece

Author: loufalce from United States
3 February 2007

Truly unique and stunning film of Jules Verne's "For The Flag" by the Czech master director Karel Zeman.Although the story is enacted in a rather understated late Victorian style, the visuals are a knockout. Zeman uses animation, graphics, painted sets, model animation combined with live action to create the atmosphere of Verne that the reader associates in his mind. The style resembles the steel engravings of Dore and Bennet and Riou that illustrated these stories with a healthy dose of Georges Melies added.Photographed in beautiful black and white the animation is of the highest order and not of a Saturday morning variety. There are underwater sequences where the fishes swimming about are so accurately drawn they can be used in a field guide.There are images of ships ,submarines, flying craft, castles,and machinery that are drawn in such accurate detail that one must have a freeze frame on his VCR or DVD to pause the scene and study the remarkable detail that went into this production.The late Victorian atmosphere is designed to look like this world that never was and delight us in the magic of science that made Verne the great father of the genre. If this is not enough, there also is the film score that probably is one of the best ever created for a fantasy or sci-fi film.Truly a forgotten classic, this one is worth hunting down and buying. Always one of my favorite films of all times, it is sure to be one of yours too. And remember- this was done decades before CGI or computer animation. Kudos to the great artists who obviously put their heart into it. It shows. Jules Verne himself would be proud of this movie.A film that deserves to be better known, but those who have seen it love it-and treasure it. An outstanding achievement , this remarkable film just gets better every time you watch it. A true cinematic work of art from a visionary director.

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17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful adventure movie with a unique look

Author: Man_With_a_Harmonica from Finland
10 February 2006

The movie is based on a Jules Verne book I actually have read once, about ten years ago. I remember I liked the book a lot, and this movie does a good job in telling the story. The most important thing in this movie isn't the story, however, but the highly original visual look it has.

The visuals are absolutely beautiful, and they are apparently achieved by a clever combination of animated drawings combined with live actors, stop-motion animation and sets that are painted so that they look much like from an animated movie. Combined by Jules Verne's own unique versions of airplanes and submarines and Karel Zeman's good directing results in a very well done and convincing visual style that manages to effectively hold one's attention until the end of the movie.

There are some problems as well, one of the underwater scenes at the end takes maybe needlessly lot of time for example, as the story in the first part of the movie is rushed through quite quickly. None of this matters much though since the movie is always highly enjoyable. A gem that deserves to be more well known for today's audiences as well. A recommended movie for the whole family.

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic in every sense

Author: horrorfilmx from United States
5 May 2010

Few films have ever captured the feel of a fantasy world better than this one. The opening sequence alone (no, I'm not talking about the Hugh Downes intro) is absolutely masterful, presenting us with a seemingly unending series of striking images done using a technique (described at length by other reviewers) I don't think has ever been used again in a feature. Fantastic planes, trains, and airships soar past evoking a sort of "steam-punk" atmosphere of retro technology before that term was ever coined. Film fans, Verne fans, fans of pure hand-crafted cinema artistry and imagination must do themselves a favor and check this movie out.

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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

19th century-style prophetic science fiction of Jules Verne

Author: retrocollage from United States
2 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This marvelous film from Czech master animator Karel Zeman is a partial adaptation of the Jules Verne novel "Facing the Flag." The story treads the well-worn path of world domination as attempted by a piratical mastermind, who uses a morally myopic scientist's high explosive.

The animation technique of this film is touted as "Mysti-mation," which is probably a bit of hype on the part of its American distributors and PR people. No animation technique Zeman used was unknown; in fact, probably every physical effect he employed was used on 19th century stages, and all of his photographic effects were known to and put to work by Georges Méliès and early stop-motion animators like Winsor Mackay. But in this film, Zeman combines all the effects in novel and unexpected ways, and literally nothing is off-limits when he needs to create some striking scenario. From the look of some of his sets, it is evident that Zeman was a prime influence on Terry Gilliam, and possibly Jan Svankmajer as well.

Zeman has a wry sense of humor, which frequently goes straight over the heads of most of his critics. For instance, when they complain about the wooden quality of the acting in the film, they're completely missing the point: the performers deliberately use the techniques of farce and burlesque, the "bits of business" familiar to the audiences of one hundred years ago, long before the evolution of the personality cult in acting. The gag, its set-up, and its execution are far more important than the individual actors or their "feelings." Deep involvement between characters is secondary to the plot (a rarity in contemporary films). Which isn't to say that there's no focus on individuals: witness Simon Hart's distress before falling unconscious on the ocean floor, or Professor Roch's guilt-stricken state near the end of the movie. But the main point is still the story and its advancement.

In short, it's a film well worth seeing, if you are willing consciously to suspend your sense of disbelief and lose yourself in the narrative.

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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Jules Verne + Cinema = Karel Zeman

Author: Oceans17 from Spain
26 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***Spoilers ahead*** My late childhood had two cinematographic icons: Star Wars and this film by Czech genius Karel Zeman. A Jules Verne encyclopedia where XIX century illustrations come to life in exquisite black and white photography, combined with stop motion and conventional animation. Verne's spirit of adventure is fully present throughout the film, as well as a very modern questioning on the moral limits of power and advanced technology. In fact, it brings atomic energy into Verne's universe in a very elliptic and elegant way. Also elliptic and elegant is the demise of the villain, with a (probably nuclear) explosion sending his hat flying over the sea. The resolution of the film is symbolic and very satisfactory, something very rare today, when a lot of films don't seem to know how to end themselves.

I was fortunate to catch this gem in reruns on local TV in the late 70s: it enhanced my enjoyment of Verne's fiction and of cinema.

10 out of 10 for Karel Zeman, under-appreciated master of imagination.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Hats Off, Gentlemen. A Genius!

Author: cstotlar-1 from United States
31 December 2011

This is even better than Jules Verne (albeit some minor Verne works) with not only the stories and some of the dialogue but period engravings surrounding live actors, animation magic to boot and uncountable other technical tours de force. It is rather cool, perhaps, with the characters rather distant from the viewers but they take second place to the virtuoso special effects. And what effects they are! The drawings are so real they pop off the screen and the music is absolutely wonderful - full Twentieth Century in this case. This is rather like the most elaborate of magic shows: we are willing to sit back and be amused - and amazed. Bravo Karel Zeman and bravo to the whole team! Curtis Stotlar

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

All time favorite

Author: vawlkee_2000 from United States
23 March 2009

I first saw this film I think about 1963 as a 12 year old on KHJ TV in Los Angeles and was totally hooked on it. years later I realized that it was pretty much based on a combination of Verne tales....The Czech title being "A Dangerous Weapon"....I love it!

I was a graduate of Occidental College in LA...Terry Gilliam proceeded me by some 12 years......Why do I comment on this? - Well, if you watch this film it has Gilliam's shtick written all over it....I only wish I'd had the chance to question him at the college bicentennial in 1986.....I have little doubt that he'd deny that Zeman's films had had any influence on him, but it's a obvious as the nose on your face! Anyone notice that?

I love the Professor Serke, the Count's number one quiz kid. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that he was a character right out of the much later "Wild Wild West"...Couldn't you see him as yet another evil genius out to take over the world?. Victorian gadgets galore!

This film makes me feel as thought I'm part of that era, it makes all of it seem so alive!

Oh yeah, the film would not have had nearly the impact that it's had on me were if not for Lisko's fabulous musical score...It emotes the charm of the Victorian era in a manner I've not seen before or since. It's also interesting that his music has certain synthesizer-Esq qualities as used for sound effects.

Has anyone ever noticed the obvious similarities in the small reconnaissance submarine to Professor Fates' craft in the much later "The Great Race"?.......I doubt it!

Captain Spade........Were he and Bluto twin brothers separated at birth?

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