The Red and the White – Film Response #2

The Red and the White (1968) is directed by Miklos Jancso. It is a film that describes a story of the war between the Red Army and the White Army. As the film has stated at the beginning, Hungarian backed the White voluntarily and fight against the Red during the Russian Civil War. Although Jancso is a Hungarian, he did not vilify the Red Army in his film and this makes The Red and the White different from propaganda.  He was more like using the film as a way to discuss how people act during the war and who should take the responsibility of launching the war.

In The Red and the White, with a series of scenes that the Red and the White take turn to hunt each other down, Jancso emphasized the situations of being powerful and powerless. A Red soldier catches a White soldier and forces him to undress himself and run and shoot him while he is running, vice versa. This cycle of humiliating and being humiliated comes up throughout the film and it also tells us that the role of being powerful and powerless can be easily changed during the war. Although The Red and the White is a war film, it does not have any bloody scenes. It is lenient not to show bloody, gross and horrible bodies; and this certainly ensures audiences to go on to watch The Red and the White because they are not terrified and calm as Vernon Young said “…when you most expect and fear that [the film] will confront you with a horror you don’t want to face, it keeps its distance…” (118) in his article Films from Hungary and Brazil.  Moreover, it is always true that innocent people are forced to do ugly things during the war, for examples, in The Red and the White, a Red soldier shows his hesitation about shooting a man when his commander forces him to do so; two women also show theirs too when they are forced to undress a young, innocent and beautiful girl for the soldiers. Since Jancso did not vilify the Red Army by showing audiences its good (does not kill the nurses), I believe he was trying to say neither one of the armies should take the blame, it is human nature that launched the war.

The Red and the White is considered as one of the best East European New Wave films because Jancso broke the tradition of Hungarian cinema since the end of the World War II. In Lorant Czigany’s article Jancso Country: Miklos Jancso and the Hungarian New Cinema, he mentioned that after WWII, Hungarian film industry was nationalized again by the new regime in 1948. In that period, many “…socialist-realist soap operas were produced about starry-eyed youngsters on the collective farms, about workers who attempted to increase production…” (45) and “…the cinema became ‘an ideological weapon’ in the class struggle…” (45). With The Red and the White, Jancso has broken the tradition of Hungarian movies, that is, he did not use cinema as a weapon and induce some “…[incorrect] ideological tendency…” (45) to people. The Red and the White is more like a film that discuss the responsibility in wartime which is unique and it is also a film that celebrates the birth of the Hungarian New Cinema.

In conclusion, The Red and the White is considered as one of the best East European New Wave films because the unique way that Jansco processed the historical issue in it and his breaking of the old Hungarian cinema.

Works Cited:

Czigany, Lorant. “Jancsó Country: Miklós Jancsó and the Hungarian New Cinema.” Film Quarterly 26.1 (1972): 44-50. JSTOR. Web. 3 Mar 2011.

Young, Vernon. “Films from Hungary and Brazil.” The Hudson Review 23.1 (1970): 116-121. JSTOR. Web. 3 Mar 2011.

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