Miklós Jancsó’s The Red and the White

Miklós Jancsó’s The Red and the White is a 1968 film that deals with the Russian Civil War. This film was well received in Hungary, as opposed to Russia who banned the film for many years. The film is set along the Volga River during the 1918 Civil War.

Since Jancsó is a Hungarian filmmaker, it is believed that the plot of the story would be told from the viewpoint of Hungarian troops. However, it seems that the film did not take sides since we see many deaths from both countries. The Red and the White was hard to follow since there is no traditional storyline. In the beginning of the film, it seemed like we were thrown into this war and we are actually witnessing it as it is happening. This goes out throughout the film, in which we are introduced to a character and suddenly he/she gets shot to death. What was interesting about this film was the lack of close-ups. Since this is a war film, I expected to see a lot of blood and gore. However, when a soldier was about to get shot to death, the camera would pan away and we would only hear gunshots. Also, the murdering scenes would be shot with a long lens and therefore we could not actually see the death of the soldiers.

Miklós Jancsó clearly had a good meaning behind this film. It was definitely not a typical war film that we see today. Today’s war films have a storyline and characters that we can emotionally identify with. The Red and the White was hard to follow and at times it did not make any sense, and that is how wars are. Jancsó did not want us to get attached to a character. Instead, he wanted us to witness the horror and violence that occurs when two countries go to war.

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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