An Hungarian youth comes of age at Buchenwald during World War II. György Köves is 14, the son of a merchant who’s sent to a forced labor camp. After his father’s departure, György gets a job at a brickyard; his bus is stopped and its Jewish occupants sent to camps. There, György find camaraderie, suffering, cruelty, illness, and death. He hears advice on preserving one’s dignity and self-esteem. He discovers hatred. If he does survive and returns to Budapest, what will he find? What is natural; what is it to be a Jew? Sepia, black and white, and color alternate to shade the mood.
The book is one of my favourite books ever. But in there, the indifference is the most horrifying mark of the plot, like a twin for Camus' "The Stranger". But the movie, with a different attitude by little György (he visibly cries and suffers; in the book he's the shocking presence of neutrality and emotional emptyness), made me believe in fate. Absolutely beautiful. Lajos Koltai should direct more film! genius!