Family & Companions
Hungarian director Miklos Jancso gained international recognition in the late 1960s, when "The Round-up" (1966), "The Red and The White" (1967) and "The Confrontation" (1969) garnered numerous awards at a variety of international film festivals. Displaying evidence of a developing revolutionary vision and uniquely formalistic cinematic style, these films not only established Jancso's reputation as an auteur, but also helped to serve notice to the world that Hungarian filmmaking had entered into a dynamic new era.
Jancso's world-wide acclaim reached its peak with "Red Psalm" (1972), for which he was named best director at the Cannes Film Festival. "Red Psalm" stands as perhaps the most coherent expression of the director's desire to combine a revolutionary form of filmic language with the theme of the moral complexities of social revolution. Although he would receive a lifetime achievement award at Cannes in 1979, Jancso's later films, such as "The Dawn" (1986) and "Season of Monsters" (1987), did not receive the widespread approval granted to his films of the 1960s and early '70s. Even his breakthrough films were later criticized as experiments in purely abstract formalism, devoid of social relevance and lacking in human compassion. Ultimately, his most enduring contribution to cinema may well be the role he played during the '60s in liberating Hungarian filmmaking from the formal and thematic constraints of state-sanctioned realism.
From his first feature "The Bells Have Gone to Rome" (1958), Jancso demonstrated a preoccupation with history, particularly for its potential for providing scenarios of political conflict and social upheaval. By the late 60s, he had developed a remarkably consistent narrative model, in which historical situations are used to isolate specific political oppositions, which are then played out to their ultimate conclusion. In each film, the conflict is presented abstractly, with little explanation as to its origins or to individual character psychology or motivation. In "The Red and The White," the setting is 1918 Russia during civil war, the action an ongoing military battle that occurs in an unspecified location. The red and the white armies engage in a series of struggles which leave first one side, and then the other, temporarily victorious. Each victory, however fleeting, precipitates the massacre of prisoners to solidify the gain. The outnumbered red army is eventually extinguished by what remains of the white forces. By decontextualizing the conflict and presenting it in abstract terms, Jancso encourages reflection on the larger theme of the nature of power and its relation to human brutality.
The abstract nature in which Jancso develops his narratives is complemented by his highly original visual style, which serves to undercut normal narrative conventions. Jancso's trademark is his masterful use of long takes, in which elaborate camera movements are utilized in tandem with highly choreographed movements of figures within the frame. Actors are often arranged into geometric patterns to match the topography of the rural landscapes the director favors. Dialogue is used sparingly, accompanied by an expressionless acting style which limits viewer identification with the characters. The overall effect of this visual design is to encourage contemplation and analysis of the complex ideas circulating through the films. Though Jancso's style was increasingly criticized as overly mechanical, it remained unmistakably his own, and for that reason his films made a distinct contribution to international cinema. Miklos Jancso died following a lengthy illness on January 31, 2014, at the age of 92.
Director (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Film Production - Main (Feature Film)
First short film as co-screenwriter and co-director (with Dezso Koza and Gyula Meszaros), "Kezunke Vettuk a Beke Ugyet/We Took Over the Cause of Peace"
First short film as solo director "Ezerkilencszazotvenketto. 1952 Majus 1/A 8. Szabad Majus 1/The 8th Free May Day"
Travelled to China with a dance troupe and made several shorts
Feature film directing debut with "The Bells Have Gone to Rome"