1945

****1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

1945
"As stark as its empty landscapes, as measured as the tread of the strangers along the poplar avenue, as compelling as the panic that grows in the village ahead of them."

It is the twelfth day of August, of the year nineteen hundred and forty-five. Far from Hungary, within the week, atomic bombs have fallen. Nearer, much nearer, the Russian occupation continues. On the outskirts, at the train station, at the end of the poplar avenue, two strangers have arrived. Within the village there is to be a wedding. That revel will give way to revelation, even apocalypse.

Shades of grey abound, but at one point the screen is a brilliant white, a moment of still power in a film that is full of them. Held together by the use of sound, score, smoke. Tibor Szemzö's music, Elemér Ragályi cinematography, doubtless the work of others as well, around and above Ferenc Török's direction from a script co-written with Gábor T. Szántó and Krisztina Esztergályos. 1945 is as stark as its empty landscapes, as measured as the tread of the strangers along the poplar avenue, as compelling as the panic that grows in the village ahead of them.

The strangers have brought with them a box, but in advance of that unknown freight their arrival leaves the village fraught, fraying, fractious - "they're back", someone says, and as the strangers come ever closer the truth does too. This is a prosperous village, one due to celebrate the wedding of the town clerk's son, a wealthy man, a powerful man, a man in good standing and of the utmost probity. No questions asked. Some topics undiscussed. There are questions of standing, of status, niceties to be observed. Things must be done in certain ways, to be fitting, to be legal. Legal is not the same as right.

It almost gives too much away to talk about the effect that these strangers arriving has upon the town - guilt, and guilt enough to spark chaos - but even amongst that the most powerful moments are as small as a shirt sleeve and a child's toy, an accident of geography, a measured tread.

Measured not just in pace but in judgement. There are no hearts as light as a feather here, indeed, some moments would stop them such is their power. As a film it is striking act of technical skill in service of a haunting story, but to say more would not, perhaps, be appropriate. Its power comes from subtleties, from grace. It's a crying shame that it currently only seems to be visible on the festival circuit, on limited release - it is an astonishing work, and one that should be sought out.

Reviewed on: 13 Feb 2018
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A Hungarian village becomes a mirror for the failure of an entire society.

Director: Ferenc Török

Writer: Gábor T Szántó, Ferenc Török, Krisztina Esztergályos

Starring: Péter Rudolf, Bence Tasnádi, Tamás Szabó Kimmel, Dóra Sztarenki, Ági Szirtes, József Szarvas, Eszter Nagy-Kálózy, Iván Angelus, Marcell Nagy, István Znamenák, Sándor Terhes, Miklós B. Székely, György Somhegyi, Tünde Szalontay, Béla Gados

Year: 2017

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: Hungary


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