The Red and the White

The Red and the White(1967) was made by the Hungarian filmmaker Miklós Jancsó.  He was known for his strong political films that used a popular technique in Eastern European cinema called “double language”.  This was a way of passing the state censorship by indirectly addressing political resistance.  Jancsó often did this with his unusual filming techniques.

The Red and the White was a film that takes place during the Russian Civil War, a brutal battle between The Reds and The Whites.  The film doesn’t particularly take any side in the war.  You can see soldiers dying on both sides, making neither side heroic.  Something that I noticed about the film was Jancsó’s wide-angle shots during the fighting.  It’s hard to understand what is really going on because it is so far away from the action.  It makes you feel as if you’re just standing there watching a war, but not really understanding what is happening.

There are no up-close and personal scenes with any of the people in the movie making it hard to indentify any main characters.  This impersonal feeling of the film can be seen as being compared to the disappearance of personal identity in the Communist regime.  This is one of Janscó’s indirect ways of criticizing the government.  He doesn’t really put his ideas out in the open, but instead hides them in his techniques of filming.

I found the film to be quite uninteresting because of the way it was shot.  There was no real plot; it was just fight scenes with no real winner in the end.  But after reading about Jancsó and his reasons for making the movie this way, it made me appreciate it more.  It’s interesting the way he was able to please both the censorship laws and criticize the government at the same time.

Work Cited:

STRAUSZ, LASZLO. “THE POLITICS OF STYLE IN MIKLÓS JANCSÓ’S THE RED AND THE WHITE AND THE LORD’S LANTERN IN BUDAPEST.” Film Quarterly 62.3 (2009): 41-47. Film & Television Literature Index. EBSCO. Web. 9 Mar. 2011.


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