Alerted by one of the many smart folks on the DVD Beaver email list, a few months back I checked out Merlin.pl, an online retailer located in Poland. I was especially delighted to discover a whole series of two-disc sets of the best of Polish animation, as well as a collection of the work of Polish documentary filmmakers. As a nation, Poland has always punched well above its weight when it comes to filmmaking of all kinds. Over the years, institutions like the Lodz Film School have turned out very fine filmmakers, many of whom have gone on to worldwide fame (Polanski, Kieślowski, Wajda, Zanussi, Skolimowski, to name just a few). While the work of most of these filmmakers is readily available in the English-speaking world, the achievements of Poland’s animators and documentarians has been harder to access. Not anymore.
Each of these collections contain two discs, in the PAL format and coded for Region 2 (except the animation collection which is region-free), along with an extensive booklet in both Polish and English. All have English and French subtitles, and most have Russian and German as well. Best of all, they retail for around 36 zlotych each, which as of this writing works out to around $13. Shipping is very reasonable, adding another 36 zlotych to ship four double-disc sets from Poland to Canada. The only drawback was the glacial pace; the package took 7.5 weeks to arrive.
Merlin.pl even includes a helpful page advising English speakers how to purchase from their site. Combined with Google Translate, purchasing is fairly straightforward. When I eventually work my way through all 8 discs and 17 hours of Polish film goodness, I’m coming back for more.
I’m also going to search their site for a good book of classic Polish film posters.
- Antologia polskiej animacji – one of several collections of animation, this one contains work from the 1950s right up to 2005.
- Krzysztof Kieślowski – documentary work from the well-known director of feature films such as The Double Life of Veronique.
- Marcel Łoziński – still working today, he is one of the most celebrated of Polish documentary filmmakers.
- Maciej Drygas – one of the younger generation of documentary filmmakers in Poland. All of his work has been produced since the collapse of Communism, but still deals with that period of Polish history.
Check out a few more photos of the snappy packaging.