Director: Miklós Jancsó
Starring: Mari Töröcsik, József Madaras, Zoltán Latinovits, Andrea Drahota, András Kozák
Duration: 73 min.
In 1919, after just a few months of communist rule, the Hungarian Republic of Councils falls victim to a nationalist counter-revolution. Admiral Horthy, leader of the nationalist far right movement, becomes the self-proclaimed regent of Hungary, and assumes power as the legal Head of State. Soldiers of the short-lived Hungarian Red Army are now on the run from relentless secret policemen and patrol units of the nationalist Royal Gendarme.
Silence and Cry is a Hungarian film directed by Miklós Jancsó. It is set in 1919 just after the fall of the short lived Communist government, and takes place in a similar setting to Jancsó's previous film The Round-Up, somewhere in the flat plains of Hungary.
The story itself is rather bleak yet devoid of any melodrama and little or no emotion is revealed. Focusing on István (András Kozak) a former Red Army soldier hiding out in a farm owned by Károly (Jószef Madaras) and his wife Teréz (Mari Törőcsik the beautiful star of Merry-Go-Round) as the local militia led by the sadistic Kémeri (Zoltán Latinovits) terrorizes the villagers daily. Kémeri is aware of István but for reasons unexplained, allows him to remain hiding and even on occasion protects him from being found. Eventually István is forced to make a decision that will put his life in danger.
Much like The Round-Up the visual style is the focus of the film, here working with cinematographer János Kende for the first time, in what would be the start of a 30 year working relationship. This film however is much more low key, with no large crowds and just a few characters. Here Jancsó explores more of his fascination with very long takes using endless barren landscapes as a backdrop. The entire film is a series of these strangely choreographed scenes where characters pace back and forth, walk around in circles, and communicate with very minimal dialog while the camera itself is constantly moving, slowly panning in circular arcs.
Once again, Jancsó creates a fascinating watch for students or lovers of international film but I hesitate to recommend this to a general audience. Even though it has a short running time, the lack of any exposition and the meditative pacing will make this a difficult and frustrating watch for anyone unfamiliar with the historical background of the film.