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also known as Csillagosok, katonák

The Red and the White 1968

  • 4.0
Banned for many years in the U.S.S.R., Hungarian director Miklos Jancso's masterful THE RED AND THE WHITE is a haunting, powerful film about the absurdity and evil of war. Set in Central Russia during the Civil War of 1918, the story details the murderous entanglements between Russia's Red soldiers and the counter-revolutionary Whites in the hills along the Volga. The epic conflict moves with skillful speed from a deserted monastery to a riverbank hospital to a final, unforgettable hillside massacre. The director of numerous Hungarian cinema classics, Jancso here creates what many believe to be his finest work. THE RED AND THE WHITE is a moving visual feast where every inch of the Cinemascope frame is used to magnificent effect. With his brilliant use of exceptionally long takes, vast and unchanging landscapes and Tamas Somlo's hypnotic black and white photography, Jancso gives the film the quality of a surreal nightmare. In the director's uncompromising world, people lose all sense of identity and become hopeless pawns in the ultimate game of chance.

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"...a very poignant and powerful film. And one of the strongest condemnations of war I've seen." - Matt Johnson, 'Paradoxical Phase' (University of Texas)


1 member likes this review

Always beautiful to look at - every frame treated with great care, wonderfully honoring the subject matter, and the people who suffered for the causes which this film depicts. The cinematography and the camera work alone are enough to recommend this movie. The acting is superb, to my tastes. Not unlike Robert Bresson's films, where no one ever overplays...if anything, they underplay, which leaves you and me holding the hot potato of the fear, pain, and horror that these people must have felt, thus creating more empathy than a whole ocean of Spielberg tears, and melodramatic facial expressions. If you are better than me at keeping track of who is who and who the bad guys are vs the good guys, you will follow the narrative with more skill than I did. However, I believe the intentions of the director are to blur the lines of identity, which helps emphasize the absurdity of war...when the same man who terrorizes one village, is suddenly hiding from his enemies in the next village, and is now himself the terrorized, so to speak. We have Reds, Whites, and Hungarians. Keeping track of the Reds and Whites was my problem....since they are often referred to as just "Russians".

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (6)

142607.small
top reviewer

Always beautiful to look at - every frame treated with great care, wonderfully honoring the subject matter, and the people who suffered for the causes which this film depicts. The cinematography and the camera work alone are enough to recommend this movie. The acting is superb, to my tastes. Not unlike Robert Bresson's films, where no one ever overplays...if anything, they underplay, which leaves you and me holding the hot potato of the fear, pain, and horror that these people must have felt, thus creating more empathy than a whole ocean of Spielberg tears, and melodramatic facial expressions. If you are better than me at keeping track of who is who and who the bad guys are vs the good guys, you will follow the narrative with more skill than I did. However, I believe the intentions of the director are to blur the lines of identity, which helps emphasize the absurdity of war...when the same man who terrorizes one village, is suddenly hiding from his enemies in the next village, and is now himself the terrorized, so to speak. We have Reds, Whites, and Hungarians. Keeping track of the Reds and Whites was my problem....since they are often referred to as just "Russians".

1 member likes this review

Great black and white cinematography. War was much slower and less gruesome on horseback. Not the best if you are anti-violence and anti-gun. More bullets than actors in this one.

1 member likes this review

You've read all the screenwriting books. Attended the writer's workshops. You've got that great, perfectly-formatted script for your Sundance debut film. However, you haven't seen "The Red and the White," yet.

The Red and the White is by far one of the most remarkable films coming out of Hungary's late Sixties. The cinematography is excellent, the story is tight and should be seen as a treat for any expert or novice of filmmaking.

4Stars.

1 member likes this review

An interesting film. Shows the absurdity and madness of war.

This film is "balletic"--- there is a lot of choreographic use of wheeling horses and marching men --- but it is a ballet of death, in which ruthless "Whites" toy with and then butcher their Red opponents. In short, very unpleasant stuff, but also authentic in capturing the Russian Civil War's brutality.There are no real individuals in this film; only highly stylized groups of victims and sadistic victimizers, whose whimsically cruel ethos gives the film an unrelenting tension.

Some amazing camera work - long take shots with wonderful camera/subject choreography. Strange, somewhat haunting, a little too much of people being forced into lines and moved to and fro, but regardless of that, a very very good film.

 

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