The reds are the Communists and the whites are the Czarists. This film is about Hungary’s involvement in the Russian Civil War that ensued after the October Revolution in 1917. There are no climaxes, very few cuts, and many executions. The film is a like a very carefully choreographed ballet. You do see some Hungarians and their involvement in the fighting, but what you come away with in watching this isn’t that the Hungarians saw the nobility of the reds cause and fought for them. You get the feeling that the Russians treated Hungary and Hungarians as their battlefield and locals in the way, respectively. It’s beautiful and haunting like the scene where several women are forced to dance with each other in a forest clearing while some Russians play instruments and others watch.
I don’t have much to say about this film. It’s a Faustian tale about an actor who effectively sells his soul to the Nazis in order to become a great actor. Although the film is Hungarian it’s in German and takes place in Germany. The style of the film reminded me of Fassbinder, Visconti’s The Damned, and Fellini’s portrayals of Fascism. However, there’s nothing special about this film. It’s middle of road.
I will only give this film a few words. 7 fucking hours and what the hell was director Bela Tarr’s obsession with long takes. I can understand when to use them, I am a huge fan of neorealism and enjoy Angelopoulos’ and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s work. However, they actually used long takes for a reason. Tarr just uses long takes to use long takes. It gets annoying very quickly and when you have to sit through 7 hours, if the depressing subject matter doesn’t get you then the damn long takes will. See anything else before this crap.