First, let's compare the two R2 (reminds me of R2D2 ;-)) editions, because - well - they're virtually identical in terms of picture quality. This one seems to be marginally brighter, shows a smidgen more information on the right & at the bottom, and that's it! It's strange then, that the cue blip in frame 140886
is not present in the older Czech release (frame 140636
- note, however, it's sort of "jagged" (see e.g. the lamp shade in the upper-left corner) - possibly a side-effect of the cue blip "removal").
Now, let's see what Criterion's got to offer - the transfer, while heavily cropped at the top & especially on the left, shows a little more picture on the other two sides. Fortunately, the "infamous" cropping is the DVD's only disadvantage. The fact that (according to the cover) "the transfer was created from a 35 mm fine-grain composite master positive made from the original negative" (as opposed to the who-knows-which-generation positive copy utilised for the PAL discs) makes a huge difference! The level of detail we see here is simply extraordinary - where Bonton / Intermedio display just uniform areas in the shades of grey, Criterion shows depth & texture, with perhaps the best example being Mrs. Lautmann's shirt in frame 116254
(And again - the cue blip in frame 176917
; it's strange that while undertaking such a tremendous restoration job, Criterion let the blemish pass unmitigated...)
As a side-note, in the interview on Bonton's DVD, Elmar Kloss (the son, spelled with an extra "s") recalls an amusing story about how his father, Ján Kadár, Jozef Kroner & Ida Kamińská - none of them speaking English - improvised when accepting the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film in 1966. It's a pity the footage of that event didn't make it to any of the three discs - it'd have been a great extra, I think...