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Apa - Father [DVD]
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Set between the period of the Second World War to the Hungarian uprising of 1956, Szabó's powerful cinematic ode relates historical events through the prism of personal experience producing a film of extraordinary intimacy. After his father is killed in the war, Tako, a young Hungarian boy, concocts a fantasy ideal of the parent he never really knew. In the child s imagination, the figure of the father attains mythical qualities. Convincing himself of his father s unbridaled bravery, the boy grows into a man and hopes to emulate his dad s heroism. After falling in love with a Jewish refugee Tako ultimately decides to find out whether his father was truly the noble warrior he s imagined him to be... The film mixes poetry, nostalgia, irony and stark images of war and totalitarianism, and confronts the viewers with the reality that salvation can start only from within. From István Szabó, Oscar-winning director of Mephisto, Colonel Redl, Hanussen, Sunshine and most recently, Being Julia starring Annette Bening. Interview with director István Szabó
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Even though he only has a few visual memories of him, his doctor father having died soon after the end of the war, Takó's life is formed by his relationship with his father, or perhaps more by his absence. For every situation in the young boy's life, not only is his father evoked ("If your father could see you!"), but the mystery of the man is a source of inspiration for a solitary young boy who imagines him as a great adventurer, a heroic war partisan, a learned, widely travelled man, an expert surgeon, adored by all and worshipped as a potential great leader - trustworthy and even faithful to his wife. These scenes are filmed in a humorous way, with a great sense of fun, but they also demonstrate a delicate touch and great sensitivity for the underlying sentiments of a young, fertile and impressionable young mind.
With so many children having suffered a similar fate of losing their fathers during the war, there is clearly however a wider meaning to the experience of a generation, confused about what happened in their community during the war years and at a loss for strong, decisive paternal leadership. As a young man at university in Soviet-occupied Hungary, Takó experiencing and considering what it meant to be Jewish and also a fascist during the war only by acting both roles in a war movie. Beautifully shot in black-and-white, alternating between surreal, dreamlike sequences and documentary realism, Apa - The Father itself exhibits the same search for identity and a personal means of expression that attempts to understanding the workings of the world, brilliantly managing to approach the concepts of freedom and identity on a national level as well as on an accessible and highly entertaining individual basis.
The first part of the film is set just after the end of WW2, and tells the story of a young boy whose father is killed in the war. In the boy's imagination his absent father becomes a towering heroic figure - fighting Nazi's, leading the Hungarian resistance, performing medical miracles as a brilliant surgeon and leading the country as revered President! Years later - as the film moves into it's second half, set at the time of the 1956 Hungarian uprising, the boy is now a young student and finds that heroism is suddenly a matter of perception...
Full of wonderful humour, great insight and fascinating detail FATHER (APA) appears as fresh as a daisy.
On top of all this, the DVD is presented in a wonderful new transfer - I can't imagine the film has ever looked better.
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