• Son Of The White Mare (Arbelos Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Arbelos Films
    Released on: June 8th, 2021.
    Director: Marcell Jankovics
    Cast: György Cserhalmi, Vera Pap, Gyula Szabó, Ferenc Szalma
    Year: 1981
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    Son Of The White Mare – Movie Review:

    Directed by storied Hungarian animator Marcell Jankovics, 1981’s The Son Of The White Mare revolves around Treeshaker, the third son of a horse who, after drinking the horse’s milk, grows fantastically strong. As he evolves, he hears stories of the events that brought about the end of his father’s reign at the hands of an evil dragon-man.

    When the white mare passes away, Treeshaker decides to seek out and eliminate the dragons who have since taken over the entire planet. He teams up with his two equally powerful brothers – Stonecrumbler and Irontemperer – to find a portal to the dragons’ underworld home, taking up residence in a giant hollowed out tree where they run into trouble with a local gnome. When they find the entrance to the underworld, Treeshaker heads in alone to find that the dragons have held some princesses hostage. The brothers save the princesses and befriend them but eventually Treeshaker winds up stuck in the underworld…

    A strange and very psychedelic kaleidoscope of a film, Son Of The White Mare is a seriously strange film and a completely engrossing viewing experience. The animation style employed by Jankovics and his team is truly wild, simplistic in its style but remarkably complex in its different compositions. There’s near-constant movement on the screen and not just with the characters in the foregrounds but in the backgrounds as well, the movie is a swirling trip as characters and their world swirl about in what almost feels like a never ending dance of sorts. It’s all very fluid in its approach to visual storytelling, and it’s completely engrossing.

    Admittedly, without knowing a whole lot about Hungarian animation or Hungarian fairy tales, it’s tough to go into too much depth or detail about how this version of the story might compare to others but this unique cultural slant is hardly a detriment. Rather, it winds up lending the movie a fairly exotic feel that goes a long way towards making it as interesting as it is. Thematically it isn’t so far off from standard English fairy tales but stylistically this is very much its own thing.

    Son Of The White Mare – Blu-ray Review:

    Arbelos Films brings Son Of The White Mare to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a “new 4K restoration from by original camera negative by the Hungarian National Film Institute - Film Archive in collaboration with Arbelos.” Framed in its original 1.37.1 aspect ratio, the transfer gets 21GBs of space on the 50GB disc and it looks fantastic. Detail is as strong as the original animation will allow and the colors are reproduced beautifully. There’s plenty of natural film grain but almost no print damage to note at all. The presentation always looks wonderfully film-like, there are no issues with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts.

    The 24-bit DTS-HD 1.0 track, in the film’s original Hungarian language, sounds very good. The levels are balanced and the track is clean, there are no problems with any hiss, distortion or sibilance. The optional English subtitles are clean and easy to read.

    Brighter Colors is a new thirty-four-minute video interview with Marcell Jankovics wherein he goes over how he got into filmmaking while his native Hungary was still a communist country and how that political environment and a series of social and cultural traits had an effect on how his work has turned out over the years, especially Son Of The White Mare.

    Certainly worth mentioning here is the Early Works section that contains some of the director's earlier efforts. In this section you'll find the three-minute Sisphys from 1974, the three-minute The Struggle from 1977 and a nine-minute Air India commercial made in 1968. The disc also includes the seventy-nine-minute feature János vitéz, also known as Johnny Corncob, from 1973, which is also taken from a new 4k restoration. It’s an interesting story based on a Hungarian folk story about a young shepherd and it’s a beautifully animated mix of adventure, humor, romance and suspense. These are all very interesting to see and add a lot of value to the disc.

    A quick four-minute archival making of documentary called The Making Of Johnny Corncob, made in 1973, features some insight from the director on making the film.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are a U.S. theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. The disc comes packaged with a nice full-color booklet that contains extensive writing on the film by Eleanor Cowen and Charles Soloman.

    Son Of The White Mare - The Final Word:

    Son Of The White Mare is a pretty wild experience, a seriously psychedelic animated trip unlike anything you’ve seen before. Arbelos Films has done an excellent job bringing this to Blu-ray with a gorgeous presentation and a host of extra features. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Son Of The White Mare Blu-ray screen caps!