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The Round-Up

Miklós Jancsó
Hungary 1965 / 95’

Second half of the 19th century. In Hungary, the hunt for Lajos Kossuth's guerrillas is underway. Closed in fortresses transformed into prisons, they are subjected to different psychological tortures. Round-Up marked the beginning of Jancsó's triumphant conquest of European cinema. For the first time in his career, he waived the traditional plot, reducing the film to a series of scenes: they are visually beautiful with their noble rhythm, but connections between them are rather loose. As far as his convictions are concerned, Jancsó stressed historical and philosophical reflection, confronting the weak and enslaved characters with social institutions and ideology. Jancsó's pessimism originated from his belief that strong will and moral rigour are doomed to lose in their struggle against the mechanisms of power and security apparatus. In Round-Up, the characters' enemies were torturers in black coats, precursors of investigation officers and camp supervisors - so characteristic of the 20th century. They incited conflicts, introduced emotional blackmail and physical humiliation to interrogations in order to deprive their victims of dignity. Seemingly their goal is to destroy the men's psyche and make them surrender to the ideology before sending them to their death. In fact - they do it just for its own sake, to take delight in the power and superiority over the prisoners.

Rafał Syska

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