Banned for over a decade for its outspoken criticism of the post-WWII communist regime in Hungary, Péter Bacsó's 'The Witness' has since then achieved unparalleled cult status in its native... See full summary »
In a small dilapidated village in 1990s Hungary, life has come to a virtual standstill. The autumn rains have started. The villagers expect to receive a large cash payment that evening, and... See full summary »
The fire department in a small town is having a big party when the ex-boss of the department celebrates his 86th birthday. The whole town is invited but things don't go as planned. Someone ... See full summary »
Banned for over a decade for its outspoken criticism of the post-WWII communist regime in Hungary, Péter Bacsó's 'The Witness' has since then achieved unparalleled cult status in its native land. Known as the best satire about communism, 'The Witness' has become a cult classic, which was also well received by critics and general audiences alike when it was finally released outside of Hungary. Its candid and realistic portrayal of the incompetent communist regime has earned great acclaim for both the director and the film itself when it was shown at Cannes Film Festival in 1981. 'The Witness' takes place during the height of the Rákosi Era, which was closely modeled after the ruthless and brutal Stalin regime. The film follows the life of an ordinary dike keeper, József Pelikán, who has been caught for illegally slaughtering his pig, Dezsõ. Instead of doing hard time for his "heinous" crime, Pelikán is elevated into an important position, generally reserved for the communist elite. Of ... Written by
The character Comrade Bástya is a satire of Army General Mihány Farkas, Secretary of Defence of the era but some elements of his character refers to Army General Czinege who was Secretary of Defence during the making of the film. (hunting with automatic rifles, closing down the pool for swimming, etc.) See more »
"Well, comrade Pelikan, life is not all beer and skittles.." (8/10)
As being a Hungarian myself, I might have a soft spot for this film, but I find it extremely funny anyway.
However, I feel I should add some background to those who never lived in a totalitarian personality cult. An era where the best was to keep your mouth shut even among your best friends, for you could not be sure who will report on you. In an era where a big black car might have stopped at your house in the middle of the night to take you and never let you go again. In an era where when deciding about executives, it was your loyalty that mattered not your skill or know-how. Where everyone stated the lemon to be an orange, if it was the dictum of the leaders. Where not clapping hard enough when "our leader" Rakosi addressed the crowd was enough for imprisonment.
All the events described in this film might seem absurd - but I have to say they easily could have and did happen during the '50s in the East of Europe.
Although the regime softened a bit, in 1969 making this film was still not the safest thing to. Not surprisingly it wasn't aired for almost a decade. But since then, it became a cult film by any means. Lines like "Well, comrade Pelikan, life is not all beer and skittles.." are known and quoted by everyone. Yes, laughing at them is mortal to any dictatures...
17 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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