Csillagosok, katonák | The Red and the White [1967]

10/10 | 27.Mar.12
Csillagosok, katonák | The Red and the White

27Mar12 – 10 – Csillagosok, katonák [The Red and the White] (Miklós Jancsó: 1967)

THE RED AND THE WHITE (“Csillagosok, katonák”, 1967) is another Miklós Jancsó film about people in war. The movie was a Soviet-Hungarian co-production made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the October 1917 Bolshevik revolution, but Jancsó set the film in 1919 during the vicious civil war that took place on the fringes of the Soviet Union between the Bolsheviks with their multi-ethnic, multi-national forces and the Whites with their own assortment of forces. This is an anti-heroic, anti-war study in emotionless, sometimes arbitrary, often one-to-one killing.

Unlike ÍGY JÖTTEM with its focus on a Hungarian student (wonderfully played by András Kozák) and a young Soviet private (the also wonderful Sergei Nikonenko) against the backdrop of the winding down of WWII, and SZIGÉNYLEGÉNYEK with its focus on groups of men rather than on individuals, there against a backdrop of the last cleaning up after the failed revolution of 1848, CSILLAGOSOK, KATONÁK tries to combine the two approaches to the same issues and not entirely successfully. A few characters do stand out: a Hungarian Red soldier (András Kozák) who you think might turn out to be the main character but doesn’t; a couple of nurses, one Soviet and strict in her adherence to the Hippocratic Oath, the other probably a Red sympathizer and possibly Hungarian too; a Hungarian captain with the Reds (I think the actor is Jószef Madaras; whoever he is, he’s excellent). But Jancsó only lets us get involved with individuals up to a point after which they disappear, sometimes to reappear, sometimes to be killed way off in the distance or off camera.

There’s more stunning camerawork (including a cavalry charge at full gallop across the plains) and “choreography” but somehow the impact is muted. Maybe the fault is mine, but I alternately wanted the movie to be either more like ÍGY JÖTTEM or more like SZIGÉNYLEGÉNYEK; the mixture of the two didn’t quite work. But it’s still a great, great movie. 9/10. [3/27/12]



  1. […] 1960′s B&W wide-screen exercises in style that included Szegénylegények (1965) and Csillagosok, katonák (1967) and, I would argue, Így jöttem (1964). I think you could say that I’m partial to […]

  2. […] Jancsó’s intricate choreography is impeccably timed (brilliantly in Szegénylegények and Csillagosok, katonák, but almost overwhelmingly so in Csend és kiáltás, Tarr’s camera movements feel looser, […]

  3. […] realized that what Jancsó has done is jettison the wide-screen deep focus of Szegénylegények and Csillagosok, katonák (and Így jöttem and Csend és kiáltás) for the zoom lens. There’s still all extraordinary […]


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