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The Red and the White (1967)

Csillagosok, katonák (original title)
In 1919, Hungarian Communists aid the Bolsheviks' defeat of Czarists, the Whites. Near the Volga, a monastery and a field hospital are held by one side then the other. Captives are executed... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
József Madaras ...
Hungarian Commander
Tibor Molnár ...
András Kozák ...
Jácint Juhász ...
Anatoli Yabbarov ...
Captain Chelpanov
Sergey Nikonenko ...
Cossack Officer
Mikhail Kozakov ...
Bolot Beyshenaliev ...
Tatyana Konyukhova ...
Yelizaveta the Matron (as Tatiana Koniukova)
Krystyna Mikolajewska ...
Viktor Avdyushko ...
Gleb Strizhenov ...
White Officer
Vladimir Prokofyev
Valentin Bryleev


In 1919, Hungarian Communists aid the Bolsheviks' defeat of Czarists, the Whites. Near the Volga, a monastery and a field hospital are held by one side then the other. Captives are executed or sent running naked into the woods. Neither side has a plan, and characters the camera picks out soon die. A White Cossack officer kills a Hungarian and is executed by his own superiors when he tries to rape a milkmaid. At the hospital, White officers order nurses into the woods, dressed in finery, to waltz. A nurse aids the Reds, then they accuse her of treason for following White orders. Red soldiers walk willingly, singing, into an overwhelming force. War seems chaotic and arbitrary. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Drama | War


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Release Date:

20 September 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Red and the White  »

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2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

8 October 2012 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

As a muted treatment of the ephemeral moral horrors of war, this is good and will appeal to an audience tired of Spielberg - or the equally histrionic depictions of carnage of Russian war films.

Something else appears to me greatly, something of specific nature here about visual (cinematic) presentation of a story. And that is because it seems like a smart , elegant solution to the problem of portraying what I call disembodied consciousness; keeping the viewer consistently tethered to the point-of-view of a character is hard enough for most filmmakers, but to break free of that and send us scudding through the air of the story? While keeping us engaged in story? Few manage, very few.

It is this, I believe, that viewers appreciate when they praise the 'hypnotic' qualities of someone like Tarkovsky, this ability to start 'in character' and slowly expand ourselves to hover out of self to where multiple visions are possible - usually the world of story and sense, plus the mechanisms transmuting the world into a story. If you are positioned the right way as a viewer, this can achieve a feeling of ecstacy.

And this guy is using Tarkovsky's camera to excellent effect, and knows just how to position the viewer. What does this mean?

His first job is to remove hard storytelling limits. Which war this is. Who is killing who. Who to be rooting for. What is the cause that justifies all this, if any. We can surmise, but staying within clean boundaries is not the focus. In place of that, he supplies a more fluid notion of hyperreality - things happen presumably as they would if you were there, explanations are absent, but the consequences seem real. You may not know just who is out to kill you, but you know someone is. This is a world with angry blood coursing through its veins.

Now for the actual, ecstatic expansion of narrative limits. It is simply superb the way he does it, and still seems novel and powerful to me.

The normal viewing mode is that already within the first couple of minutes of a film, we scan the frame for a protagonist to latch onto, trusting he will be our assigned avatar in the world of the film. The filmmaker provides expressive enough faces that we implicitly recognize as such, that we follow for just the right amount of 'real' time to invest into, then suddenly they are removed from the world, maybe to resurface later. Characters are flippantly ordered shot, make narrow escapes, are summarily discovered again, and so on.

And a third expansion is of the way we see and navigate this world, by having the camera trace circles around the story and float in and out of corridors in the air, disembodied from any character.

Though still in the experimental stage, this is great work.

You have bloodshed as your base layer, what every other war film works from.

You have this force in man, in the gears of the universe, that moves him to kill which there is no rhyme to, beyond the perpetuating of motion.

And you have that motion so powerful, we see that in the frantic running of prisoners to escape the firing squad, it enters the human world and mindlessly tears anchors from the ground, and sends our eye skidding to the next turn of the world having stable form again and tears at it, and with each groundless , spinning turn of this ballet, we float farther and farther away to where it is all an abstract blueprint.

Fluid hyperreality, narrative, and eye - each one placing you a step further from reasoning with this, but deeper in the abstract experience of not just life, of cosmic dimensions in the transitory dance of everything coming into being and going again.

Humans are vanished and reinstated and vanish again, with death as flippantly decided as someone dismounting a horse, as though it's all a part of some inscrutable game to the amusement of capricious gods.

Better yet, this is samsara; the cycle of suffering and defilements, causing eternal transmigration to no purpose.

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