Director: István Szöts
Starring: Peterke Ferency, Alice Szellay, Janos Gorbe, Nandor Bihary
Duration: 88 min.
A Hungarian woodcutter moves his family to a remote home in the Transylvanian mountains, believing they will live a more prosperous life. Soon thereafter, the family is beset with multiple hardships and tragedies, leading the man to tortured regret over his decision.
Men on the Mountain is the second film in my ongoing Spotlight on Hungarian Cinema. It was directed by István Szöts and is based on a novel by József Nyirö. Released in 1942, the film received the Biennale Award at the 1942 Venice Film Festival. In 2000, it was also chosen by critics as one of the Budapest 12, a list of the 12 best Hungarian films.
This is a mesmerizing film that attempts to show the life and hardships of a poor and illiterate young family living in the Carpathian mountains of Hungary. It is a bleak but interesting story of human struggle with a very realistic feel to it, as their lives get disrupted by a continuous set of circumstances and tragedies beyond their control.
The impact of this story is felt through some natural acting performances from the cast and some very good cinematography. Unfortunately the copy I saw looked very worn and dated, but the stunning visual style was still evident, and able to truly relay the feeling of life in the wilderness, especially in the first act of the film, and aided the storytelling with a couple of well executed point of view shots. I hope that one day this will get the decent digital restoration that is deserves.