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The Geometry of Oppression: FOUR HUNGARIAN FILMS BY MIKLÓS JANCSÓ
Saturdays, Jan. 17 & 24
Sundays, Jan. 18 & 25
"Jancsó's controlled aesthetic acts as a dissonance that vibrates expressively with scenes of violence, torture, and shame" -Penelope Houston
"All of the films in this series qualify as essential viewing, and the chance to experience 35 mm prints on the big screen is a rare and beautiful thing" -LA Weekly
The films of prolific Hungarian director Miklós Jancsó by turns mythic, lyrical, and brutal have been hailed as the product of a singular artistic sensibility. Drawing on incidents from Hungary's
turbulent recent past and dramatized around the theme of power as a destructive force in human society, a Jancsó film is visually distinctive with its long shots, virtuoso CinemaScope pans, and striking black and white images. Jancsó stages his existential dramas in a horizontal landscape dotted with rough-hewn barns and silver birch forest, and peopled by warring horsemen, brutalized peasants, and handsome women stripped of their pride by arrogant men in uniform. The Facets Cinémathèque in collaboration with Magyar Filmunió is very proud to present these four Hungarian classics from this outstanding filmmaker.
"The film is so precisely choreographed that the patterns play on the mind until they become clear and obvious in their meanings. The camera style is beautiful but almost merciless. If the film can be criticised for its lack of emotion, it can't be for its absence of power or for its cold appreciation of the situation it illustrates" -Guardian UK
"In [Jancsó's] own deep-dimensioned, black and white montages, he seems a sculptor who scrapes his material from the soil of his native land and gives it a cast of permanence" -Time
Recommended! -Chicago Reader
Jancsó's breakout film is set amid the summary detention of entire villages as Hapsburg forces try to root out any remnants of Hungary's defeated nationalist guerillas that may still roam the country's sprawling plains. Confined to a wooden fort, peasants and herdsmen are subjected to a complex array of interrogations, traps, and ruses set by their Austrian keepers. "Jancsó exhibits portraits of an embryonic police state, set against a pitiless sky and a plain so vast that it seems to show the curvature of the earth. In his cold eye, war is an aleatory art in which values are as random as bullets..." (Time Magazine) Directed by Miklós Jancsó, Hungary, 1965, 35mm, 94 mins. In Hungarian with English subtitles.
Amid the collapse of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919 and the merciless hunt for members of its defunct army, a Red soldier goes into hiding on a farm in the Hungarian prairies under the watch of a childhood friend, perhaps an estranged brother, who is now a commandant of the local government troops. Directed by Miklós Jancsó, Hungary, 1968, 35mm, 73 mins. In Hungarian with English subtitles.
"A precise ambivalence: a celebration of revolutionary heroism, and an icily detached recognition that both sides in a war can be mirror images of each other" -TimeOut London
"[Jancsó] stays relentlessly outside his characters heads in order to get past the rhetoric and bring the great forces of history to life" -New Yorker
Recommended! "He may well be the key Hungarian filmmaker of the sound era, and certain later figures such as Bela Tarr would be inconceivable without him" -Chicago Reader
Jancsó worked in the Soviet Union for this commission in honor of the October Revolution's fiftieth anniversary. As members of the defeated Hungarian army find themselves behind enemy lines at the close of World War I, they end up joining Bolshevik "Reds" in the struggle against Tsarist "Whites" in Russia's Civil War. "Great plastic beauty and a poisonous lyricism permeate this ballet of violence, its nameless men trapped in hypnotic, archaic rituals... this is a fully realized paraphrase of the human condition." -Amos Vogel. Directed by Miklós Jancsó, Hungary, 1967, 35mm, 92 mins. In Hungarian with English subtitles.
"Dazzling... Jancsó's awesome fusion of form with content and politics with
poetry equals the exciting innovations of the French New Wave... it may well be the greatest
Hungarian film of the sixties and seventies" -Jonathan Rosenbaum
"A work of amazing and totally uncosmetic beauty" -TimeOut NY
Recommended! "There's nothing deprived about Miklos Jancso's sensual open-air pageant... may well be the greatest Hungarian film of the 60s and 70s" -Chicago Reader
Jancsó received a Best Director prize at Cannes for this rhapsodic portrayal of a nineteenth-century peasant farmers' uprising. Staging maypole dances, folk chants, and other mass rites instead of tending to fields of grain, the strikers' processional ceremonies are tracked by Jancsó in twenty-six elegantly orchestrated shots and tensely observed by bailiffs, clergy, and eventually government troops. Directed by Miklós Jancsó, Hungary, 1971, 35mm, 87 mins. In Hungarian with English subtitles.