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Cast overview, first billed only:
Zsuzsa Czinkóczi ...
Ildikó Bánsági ...
Lajos Balázsovits
István Hirtling
Joli Jászai ...
(as Jászai Jolán)
Péter Kertész
Irina Kuberskaya ...
Anna Pavlovna (as Irina Kouberskaya)
Adél Kováts ...
Erzsébet Kútvölgyi ...
Éva Szabó
Miklós B. Székely ...
(as Miklós Székely B.)
Teri Tordai


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Release Date:

21 June 1990 (Hungary)  »

Also Known As:

Diary for My Father and Mother  »

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The third and most powerful of the Diary films
26 June 2016 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The autobiographical Diary films of the brilliant Hungarian director Marta Meszaros continue with this one, the English title of which is DIARY FOR MY FATHER AND MOTHER. For the first and second films, see my reviews: NAPLO GYERMEKELMNEK (DIARY FOR MY CHILDREN, 1984), and DIARY FOR MY LOVERS (a mistranslation of DIARY FOR MY LOVES, aka NAPLO SZERELMELMNEK, 1987). I have listed these under their IMDb listings, even though two are listed under their Hungarian titles and one under an English title. Only the first of the films is available for sale with subtitles, either in English or, under the title JOURNAL INTIME, in French. The subsequent two films were broadcast with English subtitles on Channel 4 in its World Cinema season in 1994, and I have videos of them which I recorded then off the air. Otherwise, they are unobtainable. Unfortunately, for this third one, the first 15 minutes is missing from my tape. It should be mentioned that Meszaros made a fourth and final Diary film in 2000, entitled KISVILMA – AZ UTOLSO NAPLO (LITTLE WILMA – THE LAST DIARY). I have no way of reviewing the fourth and last one, which has never been subtitled. The story of this film commences in 1956 and ends in 1957. Although the first 15 minutes were missing, all of that portion took place in Moscow, which Juli was desperately trying to leave at the end of the second film. She has thus been trapped in Moscow for the duration of the Hungarian Uprising and the formation of the Imre Nagy Government. As anyone who knows history realizes, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary with a massive force and sent tanks onto the streets of Budapest, blasting and destroying countless buildings and homes, and ruthlessly massacring the population in the streets. After the Soviets have successfully occupied Hungary and overthrown the new Government, Juli (played as usual by the marvellous young actress Zsuza Czinkoczi) is finally given her passport back and allowed to travel to Hungary. She arrives in Budapest to find that Magda (played by Anna Polony as usual) is in hiding still, because of the wrath of the population against her, having been badly beaten up by a crowd. Magda's flat contains a woman named Vera whom Juli does not remember, but who was a friend of her parents. She has evaded execution by obtaining a certificate declaring herself insane, though she is not, of course. She warmly welcomes Juli, hut sadly tells her that while she was away, her grandmother has died. Janos is also in hiding because the Soviets are searching for him as a supporter of the revolution. He does surface, however, and Juli is able to see him again (he is still played by Jan Nowicki). The film contains, as its predecessors did, a great deal of fascinating contemporary documentary footage integrated with the story. In this film, must of that documentary footage was shot by Meszaros herself at the time. Some of it, showing crowds of tens of thousands of people in the streets, is incredible to see. As usual, a skillful interweaving of colour and black and white enables her film to appear to be seamless with the old footage. Also, from time to time, there are flashbacks in this film which we have seen in the two earlier films. When all three films are seen in succession, a marvellous unity emerges. In fact, so unified is everything that these films would make a superb mini-series for television today. I only wish I could comment on the fourth film made ten years after this, but I assume it is just as excellent as the others. Freed as she was by the fall of the old regime, Meszaros was able to turn this third film into a truly savage attack on the Soviet Union, and on its Hungarian surrogates, what we might call 'the Hungarian Vichy Regime'. The violence, brutality, and inhumanity of the regimes which she hates are shown in their full horror, with the effects on the lives of the individuals. As a history lesson concerning the nightmare of Eastern Europe under Soviet domination, this series of films is surely unrivalled. It is unique also in being the director's own story made into a series of films by herself. Janos, whom Juli (the Meszaros character) loves, is played by Meszaros's own husband, Jan Nowicki. He is magnificent. These films are superior even to Andrzej Wajda's pair of films, MAN OF IRON (1981) and MAN OF MARBLE (1977), in being more intimate and impassioned. I would go so far as to say that Meszaros is a better director even than Poland's Wajda. A large part of this film consists of a lengthy and detailed depiction of a party to celebrate New Year's Eve for 1957. It is a triumphant sequence, for it compresses within it the entire tale, with most of the characters present. We see the ambiguous relationship between Janos and Magda, and we realize the real reason why she has persecuted him politically for so many years and confined him to prison: it is because she loved him and he rejected her. At the party, she gets carried away and, in front of everyone, passionately kisses him. But she is a dangerous viper, and to be kissed by Magda can literally be the kiss of death. These films show the complexity of human natures, the ambiguity of passions, the treachery of friends, and the corrosion of humanity by tyrannies. They are together a great artistic achievement and a monumental testimony to history. The fact that this series of films is unknown in the West is a tragedy. If the oafs and morons who run BBC-2 had half a brain between them, they would run the four films as a series on British television. They deserve to be seen, reflected upon, and discussed by everyone.

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