The Red and the White

The Red and the White is a 1967 film by Hungarian director, Miklós Jancsó. The film is definitely unique and groundbreaking for many reasons. The film is centered on the true brutality and cruelty that occurred during the 6 year Russian Civil War between the Bolshevik Reds and the opposing Whites. Jancsó uses several techniques and methods of direction in order to deliver the intensity and vividness of the events of war.

One of the major characteristics of Eastern European New Wave cinema was the detachment from storyline based filmmaking. The Red and the White contained no central plot or scheme. Also, the angles and various zooms and widescreen filming that were used to capture the events of the film were done in a way so that the audience does not develop an emotional connection to any of the characters in the film. In my opinion, Jancsó’s motive was to create a film about two armies, not about individual soldiers. Most of the scenes were shot so that there was a group or crowd of either Red or White soldiers. In addition, when soldiers were being shot killed, the cameras often focused on the soldier with the gun and not the actual victim. I believe this creates a sense of realism because the audience is not led to believe that death occurs in a specific manner or way. There is no “right” way of dying or reacting to a bullet. The fourth wall that separates the audience from the screen is destructed. This creates more room for imagination and involvement on the audience’s part. The Brechtian technique of alienation played a large role in the development of The Red and the White. There is very limited dialogue and no narration present in the film. The audience is indirectly encouraged to partake and make their own judgments and interpretations of the scene sequences they are viewing.

Overall, The Red and The White was a great depiction of the various defining characteristics of Eastern European New Wave cinema. Although I found myself confused many times throughout the duration of the film, I was also left in awe and admiration of the manner in which the image was captured and filmed. The bravery that Miklós Jancsó had in order to create a controversial film focusing on the political and social distraughts of war is remarkable and noteworthy.

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