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Agnus Dei

Miklós Jancsó
Égi bárány
Hungary 1970 / 90’

In 1919 Hungary is a place of civil war. Communist militants, who strive to create a Hungarian Soviet Republic, are ousted by popular counter-revolutionary troops, led by a charismatic priest. Soon the troops are aided by owners of big properties, then by the army. Thus, formed military forces finally defeat the communists and a young militant turned into a popular leader kills the priest, beginning his violent march to power.

No plot resume can express this original film by Jancsó, where the traditional scheme is treated as a pretext. The space was more important for the director: both the real space (lakes, meadows, groves), and the metaphorical one, which is a scene of a specific ballet performance. Jancsó makes a film out of choreographically refined rituals, he creates a space of religious and civil ceremonies, stressing the motifs of suffering, treason and sacrifice which is almost perdition. In his hands, Agnus Dei has become a film allegory, based on poetic dialogues, dance-like motions of characters and extraordinarily dynamic cinematography - with unchanging camera movement, deeply built-up frames and intra-frame editing. And yet the most important thing - as always with Jancsó's films - is a study of ideology, which, just like in his other works, mercilessly destroys all victims of naiveté and idealism.

Rafał Syska

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