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Director: Miklós Jancsó Run Time: 90 min. Release Year: 1967 Language: Hungarian

Starring: Anatoli Yabbarov, András Kozák, József Madaras, Juhász Jácint, Tibor Molnár

A haunting, powerful film about the absurdity and evil of war. Set in Central Russia during the Civil War of 1918, The Red and The White details the murderous entanglements between Russia’s Red soldiers and the counter-revolutionary Whites in the hills along the Volga. The epic conflict moves with skillful speed from a deserted monastery to a riverbank hospital to a final, unforgettable hillside massacre.

The Red and The White is a moving visual feast where every inch of the Cinemascope frame is used to magnificent effect. With his brilliant use of exceptionally long takes, vast and unchanging landscapes and Tamas Somlo’s hypnotic black and white photography, Jancso gives the film the quality of a surreal nightmare. In the director’s uncompromising world, people lose all sense of identity and become hopeless pawns in the ultimate game of chance.

Restored in 4K from its original 35mm camera negative by National Film Institute Hungary – Film Archive.

“Set during the Russian Civil War and concentrated on an area defined by hills and dense woodland overlooking the Volga river, The Red and the White explores the mechanisms of power conceptually as its characters serve political statuses with no individual agency.

Written and directed by Miklós Jancsó, It’s an impressive minimalist anti-war film. It accounts Hungarian Communists generally supporting the ‘Red’ revolutionaries in conflict with the ‘White’ counter-revolutionaries for control of the region. There’s some magnificent cinematography from Tamás Somló which is impressive equally on both a visual and technical breadth, and the camera chiefly classifies the characters crusades for superiority as an endless rotation of increase and loss.

It delivers a vast amount of elegiac and stylistic virtuosity to illustrate the brutally cold characterisation of the unsparing and violent realities of human confrontation, and there’s a plethora of long takes beautifully choreographed in manners which are symmetrically graceful and expressive. The atmosphere propels a strange complexion of mournful mysteriousness, and it generates a perception of it being an abode of the damned through its ritualistic energy and sharp elegance. The narrative never relinquishes the fasten perspectives of the vacillating shocking brutality of the essence of war, and it’s meaningless is stressed from beginning to end.” Paul Elliott, letterboxd


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