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The Red and the White

Miklós Jancsó
Csillagosok, katonák
Hungary, USSR 1967 / 90’

Another success of Miklos Jancsó, author of The Round-Up (Szegénylegények). A story of several dozens of Hungarian soldiers who formed a troop which fought in Russia after WWI on the Red Army's side. The characters are convinced of their beliefs, they accept torture and death, ready for often suicidal confrontation with the enemy. Jancsó actually doesn't speak about ideology, his subject is naiveté and the accompanying cruelty. He presents his unnamed characters as figures of victims of history. A great part of the film is set in a field hospital, where victims from both sides of the front are treated. A nurse who takes care of soldiers (the famous scene with Krystyna Mikołajewska) is raped and abandoned naked at a nearby lake.

In The Red and the White Jancsó developed the concept of an anti-psychological film, based on archetypes and symbolic scenes, where the logic of a ritual is more important than realism. Like in The Round-Up, the audience admires the refined staging, choreographic loftiness of the characters' motion, visual beauty and dynamic use of outdoor shooting. Despite the risky presentation of philosophical issues, The Red and the White was one of the most important achievements in modernist cinema of the 1960s.

Rafał Syska

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