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American Torso (1975)

Amerikai anzix (original title)
Mail <svaradi@sprynet.com> for translation. A film az 1948-49-es magyar szabadságharc katonáinak sorsát követi az emigrációban. A hontalanság, a vesztett ügy tovább- élésének kérdéseire ... See full summary »

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(short story), (screenplay) | 7 more credits »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Sándor Csutoros ...
Fiala János
...
Vereczky Ádám
András Fekete ...
Boldogh
Jenõ Balaskó
László Benke
Gáspár Ferdinándy
Gyula Hornyanszky ...
(as Hornyánszky Gyula)
Ferenc Jánossy
Ilona Keserû
Martha Lampland
György Sándor
Dénes Ujlaky
Éva Vándor
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
János Béres
Keith Craine
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Storyline

Mail for translation. A film az 1948-49-es magyar szabadságharc katonáinak sorsát követi az emigrációban. A hontalanság, a vesztett ügy tovább- élésének kérdéseire keres választ. Az archaizáló képek idézete úgy hat, mintha a filmet múlt századi, kallódó fel- vételekböl állították volna össze. Written by Steve Varadi <svaradi@sprynet.com>

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Drama

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Release Date:

26 July 2005 (Poland)  »

Also Known As:

American Postcard  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Trivia

Director Gábor Bódy used a self-invented special editing process called "light-editing" making the image teared, aged and over-exposed in order to resemble a silent film from the late 19th century. See more »

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User Reviews

 
American Civil War impression from foreign perspective
28 June 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

One of the first feature films of the great Balázs Béla Stúdió, which had existed for a decade before as pretty much a film club where enthusiastic young Hungarian artists could showcase their avant-garde shorts (it was for example where István Szabó cut his teeth).

American Torso is a Western par excellence though it is a brilliant solitary tropical orchid, a clade apart from it's genealogy (genre convention)-bound prairie flower American contemporaries.

Whilst distinct in filmic terms, it has the genuine civil war feel of a Winslow Homer painting, no small feat as he was a man in the thick of the action. The movie could almost be seen as a study using Homer's painting Sharpshooter (1863) as its seed. Both works of art highlight the strictly mechanical nature of war, with Homer himself finding sharpshooting not much different from murder. Contemoporary Hungarian director, Miklós Jancsó was the ultimate proponent of that viewpoint, war as a game of honourless chance.

The story itself, if you want to call it that (director Gábor Bódy was more a fan of metacommunication than narrative), concerns some Hungarian gentlemen soldiering for the Union in the Civil War, several conversations they have, and events they observe and participate in.

After the defeat of the Hungarian army in 1849, many professional soldiers of that army left Europe as part of the "Kossuth emigration" and fought in the American Civil War. The end of that war coincided with an amnesty back home towards fighters who had fought in the Hungarian Revolution. This circumstance provides a framing of the film's central proposition, that of ambivalence towards the American project. Some Hungarians abandoned the offer of American citizenship and returned home to Hungary, others stayed on.

Americans in the film are shown in the main as rambunctious tyros, brawling, whoring, drinking, or killing, controlled by rather sinister puppeteers (railwaymen and generals). There's a sense of a new world on the move, but also that some of the men yearn for the quiet civilities of their settled homeland.

American Torso is very experimental, ignoring much of narrative convention in favour of impression, containing at times an impish Vertovian playfulness in mise-en-scene. It's quite beautiful, has high production values, is educational, and at times mysterious and transcendent.


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