The Hungarian filmmaker Istvan Szabo made this brilliant claustrophobic drama in 1979 - but despite winning prizes at Berlin Film Festival for Best Director, and nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film in 1980 has never had any kind of decent release anywhere. We are indebted again to the resourceful UK company Second Run DVD for uncovering another forgotten gem of world cinema. This is a real find. Basically a two-hander, it takes place during the dark days of the Nazi occupation of Budapest in 1944. A young mother's life is turned upside down when she's suddenly forced into hiding to escape the Nazi persecution. Forced to pose as the wife of a man she doesn't know (a member of the anti-Nazi resistance), and unaware of the fate of her own husband and child, the two are impelled to try to trust each other...
The performances are wonderful, the cinematography (in shades of beautiful steel blues and greys) is stunning, the script intelligent and poignant. This really is a a great film, and mystery why no one would have bothered to release it before - especially considering its subject matter and the reputation of it's great director - and presented beautifully on Second Run's exceptional disc.
This is arguably Istvan Szabo's greatest film. It is a story placed in the waning days of Nazi-occupied Budapest, containing a universal tale of the human struggle for trust and intimacy. It is a wonderful, tender movie--great narrative, fantastic acting, great pacing, and photography that creates an atmosphere wherein danger and betrayal live in close quarters with their "twins"--safety and intimacy. This movie will make you forget where you are, while you ask yourself who you are and who really knows you.
A subtle and affecting story of the growth of love in hiding during WWII. Highly recommended. Don't miss the interview with the director Szabo in the extras for his views on what sets cinema apart from other artforms.
Very good acting and atmosphere. The story is a bit trivial, there is no particular attempt by the screenplay and the director to make it any complex. At the end something seems missing but this make it even more realistic. Not bad at all, to be seen
I saw this film when it came out and remember being very moved by it. It is not a masterpiece but a more a curiosity of a country dealing with the past in an oblique way. Not sure that it is a huge commentary on the Kadar regime that was in power at the time but the performances are strong and I am pleased to have seen it again. Szabo does not age well like Jancso or Makk.
Brillant film! Two thumbs up! East Europe films have never been so glorious to me, even MEPHISTO(which I think because it's somewhat similar to BERTOLUCCI's THE CONFORMIST.) However, I still think it deserves a better treat in blu-ray format. Think about that, Second Run, Eureka MoC or CRITERION.
Headline says it all. People actually had to live like this - very glad it wasn't me or anyone from my own family. Films like this make you realise how lucky you are to be living in 21st century UK. The filming, acting and direction all supported the subject matter and magnified the atmosphere. I thought the ending absolutely right, nothing else would have rung true.