The original story of Philemon and Baucis is an ancient Greek legend in which an elderly couple puts up the messenger of the gods. In return, they can ask whatever favor they want, and they ask to die together, so that neither would have to mourn for the other.
Setting this story at the time of the Hungarian revolution in 1956, we more or less expect some self-sacrifice. The beginning of the film gives clues for that: an elderly couple getting ready for their anniversary, living in perfect harmony despite the political turmoil around them. And then suddenly a wounded young soldier runs into their house. This would be their chance to do a good deed, to be as noble as their mythological namesakes. We expect heroic self-sacrifice - in vain. The woman keeps telling the soldier to go away; the man does try to get the doctor, who, however, is just about to emigrate from the country and won't waste his time on wounded strangers. We expect the old man to perhaps trade his silver watch to the trader who had expressed interest in it and use the money for good purposes - he doesn't.
This is not a Hollywood-type heroic story. This Philemon and Baucis are no models for selflessness. They are ordinary people, keen on shunning the world outside so that their comfortable little life would not be influenced by outside factors, even ones that change the whole world. I'm convinced lots of people act like this at times of great historical turmoil. And we may ask ourselves the question: wouldn't we?
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