Csend és kiáltás | Silence and Cry
DIRECTOR: Miklós Jancsó | WRITERS: Gyula Hernádi, Miklós Jancsó | CAST: András Kozák, Andrea Drahota, Zoltán Latinovits, Mari Törőcsik, József Madaras, István Bujtor | Hungary
Csend és kiáltás was the last of Miklós Jancsó’s 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 these films: not only did I avidly seek them out, but I rated those three 10/10. Csend és kiáltás is set in 1919 after a right wing coup against the Red Army whose members are being hunted down and executed on the spot. One such Red Army soldier is allowed to hide on a farm and discovers that the farmer’s wife and sister are slowly poisoning the farmer and his mother, setting up the dilemma of whether he should report this activity and betray himself or betray his moral code and remain silent. This story is told obliquely and by means of fragmentary dialogue interspersed with long stretches of silence, and I think it’s the least successful aspect of the movie. What drives Csend és kiáltás is Jancsó’s camera, constantly in movement with long pans, travelling dolly shots, sweeping turns (including 360 degree turns), while the actors themselves are in constant, fluid motion. On top of this, the film is made up of astonishingly long takes (one review says there are only 40 takes in the movie). But because of Jancsó’s mastery of the wide screen and because of his setting — once again the endless flat plains of Hungary — the film never seems crowded or busy or fussy, but the (potential) melodrama of the plot and the virtuosic abstract style that Jancsó chose to tell it with don’t mesh. Still, that style, here at the most extreme I’ve ever seen it, is a wonder to behold.