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Black Jack DVD

Ken Loach, 1979

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Film Details

Directed by Ken Loach

Produced in 1979

Main Language - English

Countries & Regions - British Film

MovieMail's Review

An uncharacteristic entry in Loach's canon, this 18th century children's adventure is characterised by sumptuous photography, enchanting performances and Loach’s gentle, observational style, familiar from his earlier feature Kes. James Oliver takes a look

Ken Loach is one of the more dependable figures in world cinema, seldom straying from the politically engaged social realism with which he is synonymous. The period drama Black Jack is therefore something of an oddity in his career. Typical neither of its director nor its genre, it is an uncharacteristic film, but it’s a thoroughly worthwhile one nonetheless.

Black Jack himself is a rascally French sailor (Jean Franval), who first cheats death, then press-gangs Tolly, a young apprentice, into helping him escape; the two are soon embroiled in a series of picaresque adventures. Along the way, they meet Belle, a young girl escaped from the asylum. When she is reclaimed by the doctors, her friends decide upon rescue.

What’s interesting is how much Loach stamps his mark on proceedings. There are characteristically naturalistic performances and a greater emphasis on social class than you get with, say, Merchant-Ivory. Best of all though is Chris Menges’ sumptuous photography, which is absolutely comparable to Barry Lyndon.

James Oliver on 27th May 2010
Author of 182 reviews

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Film Description

When honest young Tolly is forced on the run with ‘Black Jack’, a villainous ruffian, adventure and mishap are never far away. As the two enter a world of body-snatchers, private lunatic asylums and travelling fairs they find friendship in the most unlikely places.

Based on Leon Garfield’s popular novel, Ken Loach’s Black Jack is a children’s adventure film set in the 18th Century. With Chris Menges’ beautiful photography, enchanting performances by its charismatic young cast and Loach’s gentle, observational style – seen in his earlier feature Kes (1969) – Black Jack received the Critics’ award at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival.

DVD Details

Certificate: U

Publisher: BFI

Length: 98 mins

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Format: DVD Colour

Region: 2

Released: 21st June 2010

Cat No: BFIVD844

Subtitles: English H.O.H

DVD Extras

  • Feature commentary by director Ken Loach
  • English and French language versions of the feature
  • Illustrated booklet featuring essays by Sophie Mayer, extracts from Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories series and more
  • Original trailer
  • Deleted scenes
  • Dolby Digital mono audio (320 kpbs).

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