Along with 'The Red and the White' by the same director and also released by Second Run DVD, this film is a must-have for any serious collector of world cinema. Made in Communist Hungary in 1966, it is about Hungarian prisoners rounded up by the Austrians one hundred years earlier, and held in a stockade set within a barren landscape. The themes of unjust imprisonment, oppression by a foreign country, and the powerlessness of the individual are all present here and must have carried immense power at the time the film was made.
Many of the scenes in this strange film are in medium to long shots, across the flat landscape, and of groups of men inside the stockade. There are countless shots of great beauty and the pace is quite slow. As such the drama is almost abstract at times, and it's difficult to identify with many of the characters. The ending however, is very dramatic and deeply shocking.
The DVD includes a lengthy interview with Jancso and the print of the film is very sharp.