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Blu-Ray Review: Deaf Crocodile’s Time of Roses (Collector’s Edition) 

Time Of Roses

The Boutique Label continues to surprise and delight with its newest release the Finish mind-bending sci-fi late 60’s Epic Time of Roses.  Newly restored and for the first time on Blu-Ray.

The Film 

Buckle up and take the ride. 

That’s how Deaf Crocodile has got me now.  No matter the film they release be it an esoteric French Spy Film (The Unknown Man of Shandigor), Romanian Animation (Delta Space Mission), Russian Kafian Historical Drama (Zero Grad), or forgotten Blaxploitation Epics (Solomon King) there is a rich sense of understanding intelligent filmmaking that has slipped through the cracks for audiences.  The Finnish Futuristic Tale of Obsession Time of Roses fits perfectly into their curated tastes and releases.  

Set in 2011 (made in 1969) tells of a world where America has isolated itself, England is in ruins as is most of Europe, and Finland has managed to thrive because of their very strict authoritarian government.  The government tames the masses by many means but one of their most effective is TV and specifically programs about the faceless masses of history.  One of these “historians” Raimo (Arto Tuominen) on a search for his next subject becomes obsessed with a woman from the past and present (Ritva Vepsä).  As he begins to research the past and has begun some sort of relationship with the woman in the present, everything in his and her life begins to unravel.  

Like THX1138 after it, Time of Roses is a dense film that requires and asks for your attention. Not a film that can be inactively engaged with.  If one is willing, the rewards as the narrative begins to unfold as a tale of obsessions, control, the past, and the inability to move forward swirls to magnificent heights.  Though not a tale that ends happily, the film consistently thrills with its adroit understanding that we are doomed to repeat the calamities of the past especially when the past is obscured by those in power.  

The way the film is austere in its thematics and purpose may have been too much during its initial release but now six decades later, it’s almost dangerously prescient.  Writer/Director Risto Jarva has an innate ability to combine his visuals, production design/art direction, performance, and editing for a multi-layered film that at one time is a critique of society’s ills and a crackling mystery and tale of obsession.  Jarva understands that to have one you must have the other, but neither is a chore to be dealt with.  

Time of Roses is a film that thrives in its genre trappings making it a thrilling and mysterious dystopian tale of oppression.  One that you will not soon forget.  

The Transfer

It never gets old lauding praise on my favorite Boutique label and their newest release.  The care that Deaf Crocodile puts into the image and/or restoration work is quickly rivaling the work that Criterion (the benchmark standard) does.  Even when they are not a part of the restoration work the work is always on par with the best of the best restorations. Time of Roses is no exception.  The restoration work done by Deaf Crocodile in collaboration with the Risto Jarva Associaton and KAVI (Finnish National Audiovisual Institute) with the Blu-ray authoring by David Mackenzie of Fidelity In Motion is a minor miracle.  The black and white image is a near-perfect representation of the kind of photography endemic to the best photography of the era.  There’s nary a scratch, blemish, or speck of dirt present from beginning to end.  The image’s clarity and grain structure are only matched by the subtle contrast and black levels, giving us an image that has a three-dimensionality to it.  Bravo to DC and their considered work here and on every release.  If you are not buying this or any of the Deaf Crocodile Blu-Rays (and the “hope-hope-wish-a-upon-a-star” eventual 4K UHDs) you are missing out on some of the best transfer work being consistently released to home video and Time of Roses is a prime example.

The Extras

They include the following;

  • New commentary by film critic, professor, and programmer Olaf Möller.
  • Two of Jarva’s short films from the 1960s: “Pakasteet” (Frozen Foods), and “Computers Serve” (Tietokoneet palvelevat)
  • Deleted scene
  • Deleted song 
  • Original trailer
  • New essay by filmmaker and critic Ville Suhonen of the Risto Jarva Association.
  • Newly translated extracts from Risto Jarva’s writings.

The all-new commentary by film critic, professor, and programmer Olaf Möller begins with his credentials and his purpose, very cheekily, and where he is recorded and its importance to the film and the director’s life.  Some of the details include the importance of Actor (here) and filmmaker Allan A. Pyykkö; the context of the future that the film takes place; how the politics and future events portrayed in the film closely hue to real life events that had yet to happen; the production design and various real life areas in Finland that were used for the production; the first serious Finnish Science Fiction film – and how it differed from other Finnish genre films; a critique and deep dive into the character Raimo – and how he’s in part based on sensational journalist Veikko Ennala, and others in Finland that as he describes them “mudrakers”; a detailed discussion of the development of the film – how it began as a Vertigo homage but turned into something different as they began to move into further production and development; the work of screenwriter Jaakko Pakkasvirta – and specifically how similar this is from other of his work; the strike of the Finnish Nuclear Powerplant workers – and how the Powerplant they eventually built did not begin until 1971, two years after the release of this film; the game the power plant workers are playing; the sexual sublimation throughout the film; the importance of actor Kalle Holmberg and his importance of Finnish Stage director and TV director; a larger discussion various Nordic Countries and their views on nudity and pornography and how each wildly vary and how Finland approaches as compared to Sweden and Denmark; a larger discussion of the career, life, and art of Risto Jarva; and much more.  Möller’s commentary track is highly engaging with contextual details and information about the film in Finland both politically, artistically, and historically.  Note there are moments of silence, but the information given is worth the pauses in the track.  

RISTO JARVA, TYÖTOVERINI (RISTO JARVA, MY COLLEAGUE) [61:38] – A Finnish TV Documentary directed by Antti Peippo from 1984 looks at the work of director Risto Jarva.  Using a compilation of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage of the director at work, and clips from his films, the doc does a great job of giving us a bigger context and the importance of a director that many may not be familiar with.  Note: this television episode has been beautifully restored or kept in perfect condition, either way, the transfer on this is a wonder.  In Finnish with English subtitles.

Pakasteet” (Frozen Foods) [11:50] – Director Jarva’s satirical look at the advertising for television as a crew attempts to make a commercial about frozen peas and other frozen vegetables to much comedic effect.  Jarva’s film is always sharp but equally acute when it’s cutting for effect showing just how much goes into ads, which feels way ahead of its time.  Part documentary, part comedy of errors, fully insightful into just how frozen food is/was made.  From 1969. In Finnish with English subtitles. 

Computers Serve” (Tietokoneet palvelevat) [14:37] – Director Jarva’s Mod / Pop Art-influenced documentary about computers is an utter delight.  Tracing the origins of collecting data from the earliest civilizations and making connections to various technological processes for computers and how they visually relate to the Modern Computer (for the time).  Predating the work of Godfrey Reggio and his Qatsi trilogy by twenty years but with similar visual themes.  The artistically acute documentary is still fresh and informative almost six decades later.  From 1968.  In Finnish with English subtitles. 

Deleted scene (3:57) – A party scene at Raimo’s home recounting his experiences with the engineers.  Finnish with English Subtitles.  

Deleted Song (3:37) – original song “The Swallow Tower” (Pääskytorni) performed by Otto Donner cut from TIME OF ROSES, the original negative has not been found.  In Finnish with English Subtitles.

Original trailer (2:14) – In Finnish with English Subtitles

Becoming as important as the Blu-Ray special features are the booklets included in Deaf Crocodile’s Blu-rays.  The new essay by filmmaker and critic Ville Suhonen and newly translated selected writings from Risto Jarva himself not only add to the value but give you some great context to not only this film but Jarva’s career as a whole.

The Final Thought 

Time of Roses is a truly great undiscovered – at least in the US – science fiction film.  Deaf Crocodile gives it the deluxe treatment.  Highest Possible Recommendations!!!

Deaf Crocodile’s Blu-Ray edition of Time of Roses is out April 25th

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