When two black clad men arrive at a country railway station, a classic western set up appears to be unfolding. But it’s 1945 in Soviet-occupied Hungary in the immediate aftermath of World War II, and by their appearance the men are Orthodox Jews. As the two men make their way to town and word of their arrival spreads, there’s a growing panic amongst some of the more prominent townsfolk - especially town clerk, István, whose son’s wedding is later that day…
This difficult, transitional time in Hungary is a period rarely dealt with in cinema, and certainly not with as much clarity, economy and nuance as Ferenc Török displays here. A rare subject too, the grave and sobering issue of how the Gentile population of Nazi-occupied countries behaved towards Jewish neighbours, and how they have, or haven’t, variously, come to terms with a life based on guilt and betrayal. With its monochrome splendour and striking soundtrack, morally compromised townspeople and its tick-tock narrative towards an unknown conclusion, we’re reminded of nothing more than Fred Zinnemann’s taut and masterful High Noon.
Language: Hungarian, Russian
‘A fresh, intelligent cinematic approach to a difficult topic that takes on a transitional time in Hungarian history with subtlety and nuance. ’Variety