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The Round-Up
dir. Miklós Jancsó / Hungary 1965 / 95’
subtitles: Polish and English


János Görbe, Zoltán Latinovits, Tibor Molnár, Gábor Agárdi, András Kozák

Film description

Second half of the 19th century. In Hungary, the hunt for Lajos Kossuth's guerrillas is underway. Closed in fortresses transformed into prisons, they are subjected to different psychological tortures. Round-Up marked the beginning of Jancsó's triumphant conquest of European cinema. For the first time in his career, he waived the traditional plot, reducing the film to a series of scenes: they are visually beautiful with their noble rhythm, but connections between them are rather loose. As far as his convictions are concerned, Jancsó stressed historical and philosophical reflection, confronting the weak and enslaved characters with social institutions and ideology. Jancsó's pessimism originated from his belief that strong will and moral rigour are doomed to lose in their struggle against the mechanisms of power and security apparatus. In Round-Up, the characters' enemies were torturers in black coats, precursors of investigation officers and camp supervisors - so characteristic of the 20th century. They incited conflicts, introduced emotional blackmail and physical humiliation to interrogations in order to deprive their victims of dignity. Seemingly their goal is to destroy the men's psyche and make them surrender to the ideology before sending them to their death. In fact - they do it just for its own sake, to take delight in the power and superiority over the prisoners.

Rafał Syska

Information about director

Miklós Jancsó

Born in 1921 in Vác, Hungarian director and screenwriter, one of the most outstanding figures in the European cinema of the 1960s and 1970s. He studied the history of art, law and ethnography and then directing at the Theatre and Film School.

Involved in the communist party, he took part in the agricultural reform and he depicted his experience in Sparkling Winds (Fényes szelek, 1968). Before his feature debut, he made dozens of documentaries. He earned international fame with The Round-Up (Szegénylegények, 1965) and The Red and the White (Csillagosok, katonák, 1967) where he developed the original poetics of long shots, sophisticated motion of actors and expressive cinematography (in those times, his closest collaborator was the cinematographer Tamás Somló). The themes he explored included a philosophical analysis of history, displaying a weak human suffering humiliation from the anonymous system. He guarded his aesthetical originality also in his later films, many of which were made in Italy: The Pacifist (La pacifista, 1970), La tecnica e il rito (Technique and rite 1971). He was very successful both with films exploring contemporary issues and history: depictions of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in Silence and Cry (Csend és kiáltás, 1968) and Agnus dei (Égi bárány, 1970). Metaphors of his subsequent films became more and more allegorical, like folk stories, myths and para-theatrical performance. He is still active; lately, critics liked his Season of Monsters (Szörnyek évadja, 1986), Anyád! A szúnyogok (Damn You! The Mosquitoes (2000), Last Supper at the Arabian Gray Horse (Utolsó vacsora az Arabs Szürkénél, 2001), Wake Up, Mate, Don't You Sleep (Kelj fel, komám, ne aludjál, 2003). In 1979 he obtained the life's work award at the festival in Cannes, and a similar prize in Venice in 1987. He is still regarded as one of the most original filmmakers of the 1960s and 1970s; he has also influenced such directors as Theo Angelopoulos and Béla Tarr.

Selected filmography

1958 Dzwony powędrowały do Rzymu / A harangok Rómába mentek / The Bells Have Gone to Rome

1967 Gwiazdy na czapkach / Csillagosok, katonák / The Red and the White

1976 Grzechy prywatne, publiczne cnoty / Vizi privati, pubbliche virtù / Vices and Pleasures

1991 Powrotne ścieżki Boga / Isten hátrafelé megy / God Walks Backwards

1999 Pan Bóg zostawił mi latarnię w Peszcie / Nekem lámpást adott kezembe az Úr, Pesten / Lord’s Lantern in Budapest

Cast & Crew

director: Miklós Jancsó
screenplay: Gyula Hernádi
cinematography: Tamás Somló
editing: Zoltán Farkas
cast: János Görbe, Zoltán Latinovits, Tibor Molnár, Gábor Agárdi, András Kozák
producer: István Daubner
production: MAFILM - Stúdió 4
sales: Magyar Filmunió
language: Hungarian
colouration: colour
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