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Silence and Cry

Miklós Jancsó
Csend és kiáltás
Hungary 1968 / 79’

1919, a time of repressions after the liquidation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. With the two characters we watch the omnipresent cruelty and growing degeneration of people - resulting to a great extent from the lost war and loss of land taken over by neighbouring countries. The first character, István hides from the new authorities on the immense Hungarian plains and falls victim to the emotional sadism of a gendarme. The other character, Károly, surrenders to the authorities, but he is forced to do a humiliating ritual vigil in a ceremonial uniform in front of his house. His wife and sister-in-law, whose psyche is equally ruined, cannot stand the constant tension and resolve to poison the man. István denounces the immoral women, although he knows that this deed will mean the death penalty for himself.

Miklos Jancsó said about the film's title: silence is powerlessness and passivity of the society, a scream - an individual protest by an oppressed man. Silence and Cry is one of the most sophisticated works by this director. It is about historical and philosophical analyses and about ideologies humiliating people. This is also one of the darkest and most pessimistic films, exposing the darkest hues of melancholy, which makes people passive and stupefies them. This approach is characteristic of Hungarian cinema.

Rafał Syska

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