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 Round Up (Szegénylegények)
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... In his 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 (1969).

1965/b&w/94 min./ Scr: Gyula Hernádi;
dir: Miklós Jancsó; w/ János Görbe, Zoltán Latinovits, Tibor Molnár, András Kozák.

Silence and Cry (Csend és kiáltás)
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.

1968/b&w/73 min./Scr: Gyula Hernadi, Miklós Jancsó; dir: Miklós Jancsó; w/ Andras Kozak, Zoltán

The Red and the White (Csillagosok, katonák)
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.

1967/b&w/92 min./Scr: Georgiy Mdivani, Gyula Hernádi, Miklós Jancsó; dir Miklós Jancsó; w/
József Madaras, Tibor Molnár, András Kozák.

Red Psalm (Még kér a nép)
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. "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.

1971/color/87 min. | Scr: Gyula Hernadi;
dir: Miklós Jancsó; w/ József Madaras, Tibor Orbán, Tibor Molnár.
The Round Up (Szegénylegények)
Friday, October 17  7:30 pm
Silence and Cry (Csend és kiáltás)
Friday, October 17  9:15 pm
The Red and the White
(Csillagosok, katonák)
Friday, October 24, 7:30 pm
Red Psalm (Még kér a nép)
Friday, October 24, 9:15 pm

Miklós Jancsó's Geometry of Oppression
LACMA rounds up four films by Hungary's greatest living director
By Lance Goldenberg
Published on October 15, 2008 at 5:38pm

Appreciating Miklós Jancsó as Hungary’s greatest living filmmaker means first accepting that
there is almost never anyone to care about in his films, only nameless pawns locked in the toxic
rituals of power and war. Everyone plays his part in a Jancsó production, although the roles of
oppressor and oppressed are often interchangeable. Characters are casually snuffed out before
there’s even a fighting chance of developing empathy for them. Masses of humans are reduced to
geometric patterns through a series of precisely composed panoramas that suggest a John Ford
Western filtered through Last Year at Marienbad. And through it all, the films’ breathtaking
cinematic language provides an elegant but deeply ironic counterpoint to the arbitrary, all-
pervasive violence. Jancsó has proven himself a prolific and eclectic auteur over a career
spanning nearly six decades, but the four films featured in LACMA’s indispensable retrospective
are cut from much the same, sublime cloth, together constituting a holy pantheon upon which the
director’s formidable reputation largely rests. The Round-Up, the 1965 film that brought Jancsó to
international attention, is set in a 19th-century detention camp where Austrian overseers perform a
grim last tango with the Hungarian prisoners they randomly terrorize. The Round-Up establishes
Jancsó’s premise that those with power are as pitiable as those they humiliate, but The Red and
the White (1967) goes one step further, stripping codes and context from the brutal civil war of
1919 until it’s nearly impossible to distinguish between rival forces. Silence and Cry (1968), set in
the same year as The Red and the White, is a more intimate and traditionally satisfying work,
replacing the previous films’ disposable masses with a handful of recognizable characters
anchored by the ambiguous relationship of two soldiers from opposing sides. This slightly
warmer approach paves the way for 1971’s Red Psalm (Még kér a nép), which introduces color,
music (almost all of the dialogue is sung) and a filmmaker who not only allows himself to finally
take sides but occasionally teeters on the brink of agitprop. Red Psalm is the only one of these
features not shot in glorious CinemaScope, but 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
LACMA; through Fri., Oct. 24.