Children Of Glory

Children Of Glory


Reviewed by: Susanna Krawczyk

Children Of Glory dramatises the events of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. We follow Szábo Karcsi (Iván Fenyö), champion water-polo player and all-round jock heartthrob, as he becomes embroiled in the student demonstration that sparked the revolution, and on through the fighting all the way to the famous “Blood in the Water” polo match of the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

Karcsi is self-absorbed to the point of obnoxiousness – only interested in girls, drinking and claiming to have bedded his fellow polo-players’ mums. His goal is to represent Hungary at the Olympics, and he won’t let even harassment from the secret police - for fighting with the Soviet team - dent his enthusiasm. Of course, this is all to change when along comes the revolution to change his life along with everyone else’s.

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Kata Dobo plays Viki, a student who is passionate about her country’s right to be free of communist rule. She is a far more likeable character than our supposed protagonist and I sighed many a sigh over how a meathead like Karcsi (however he redeems himself in the end) could manage to win her over. Nevertheless, she’s unwilling to abandon one iota of her activism at his request, and brings him over to the side of right quick-smart, so I can only complain so much. Dobo is a very competent actor, bringing to the screen a character who is tough as old boots but still idealistic, passionate and full of love for her country and her people.

Various bit players fill out the cast, including Viki’s nerdy best friend (portrayed in this movie as the originator of the famous “Ruszkik haza!” slogan that was chanted and painted on walls all over Budapest), Karcsi’s naive and vulnerable younger brother, self-serving team-mate Tibi (Sándor Csányi) and several other disposable activists, given personalities in order to make the enormous casualty rate even more poignant.

It would be fair to say that Children Of Glory is a film that is generally historically accurate; the main players are fictional (for example it was Ervin Zador, not the fictional Szabo Karcsi, who bled into the Olympic pool from a Soviet punch to the face) but the political upheaval, propaganda-saturated media broadcasts and bloody fighting in the streets come from reality.

Along with the slight dramatisation, quite a few patriotic “war movie” clichés have come along for the ride: Karcsi is spurred to action after meeting a beautiful and passionate protester at a student rally, a fellow activist is tragically and dramatically gunned down just as he exclaims “This is the first day of our lives!”, much patriotic flag-waving and tearful anthem-singing is in evidence, and the baddies (mainly comprised of the secret police, known as “AVO”) are just as bad as they can be. This is not a very nuanced view of the situation, but it really doesn’t pretend to be. It’s a patriotic, pulse-quickening tribute to the thousands of Hungarians who died in the streets in October 1956.

Reviewed on: 28 Feb 2008
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Children Of Glory packshot
The Hungarian revolution as seen from the perspective of its water polo heroes.
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Director: Krisztina Goda

Writer: Joe Eszterhas, Éva Gárdos

Starring: Kata Dobó, Iván Fenyö, Sándor Csányi, Károly Gesztesi, Ildikó Bánsági, Tamás Jordán

Year: 2006

Runtime: 123 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Hungary


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