I've watched this one a couple of times, and I think this is his masterpiece. As always the choreography is sublime, but there's less confusion here than in 'The Red and the White'. This is how your government systematically destroys you. I was intoxicated by the rhythms.
4,5 Like in the Cavalier's movie "Libera Me", Jancsó deterritorialize the space and created a possibility to all oppression regimes. He doesn't want to tell you about Hungary or who is who, all characters are built to correspond to a type and the space he created (through cinema) is just a stage where all the power relations are visible.
3.5 There are great scenes here and it conveys the sense of oppression and despondency remarkably well but I couldn't help by feel the oft-described Machiavellian manipulation just wasn't that clever and was too easily swallowed by the prisoners. Perhaps that's symptomatic of another time and culture or maybe my lack of appreciation of the historical realities? In the end it felt a bit simplistic.
Brutal. Unsentimental. Formally perfect. A painfully perfect illustration of how totalitarian power operates & at the same time reveals its dehumanizing consequences for all involved. The depressing political subject matter is ameliorated by the beautiful cinematography & the precise black & white composition- there can be no question that Jancso is Hungary's most dazzling auteur (even if Tarr is more visionary).
The ending jarred a bit in an otherwise fantastic film. The setting was gorgeously bleak. Janos in the yard with the quiet stares and furtive movements built up an absorbing tension. With little dialogue the narrative is created by glances and the creation and manipulation of space from the solitary cells to the vastness of the steppe. Oh, and the birds are almost always chirping which was a bit unsettling.
I was never very good at chess. However clever you think you are, there is always someone several steps ahead of you. And in the midst of a game you make moves you think are right and your opponent makes moves you cannot hope to understand. And at the end you are beaten and you feel a fool. In political wars you may feel that fortunes are changing. They are not.
Poignant historical revision of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. The detached minimalist approach reinforces the claustrophobic atmosphere in the detention camp & highlights the acts of betrayal among dissidents, the sole interaction expressed between them, while the captors are treated with neutral indifference by Jancso -minimalism or political correctness? In the last 30 minutes, the film regrettably loses focus.
As expressionistic as anything by Dreyer, as potently historical as anything by Tarkovsky, as unsettling as anything by Haneke, and as lingering as anything by Tarr. The narrative is deservedly recognised as a counter to the austerity of authoritarian regimes, and its form is paradoxically epic and minimalist. No matter what limitations the director laments regarding cinema, this is a conceptual achievement.