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Vakvagany (2002)

Unrated  |   |  Documentary, Mystery  |  31 May 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 49 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 2 critic

A strange film employing old home movies and newly shot footage in an effort to expose one Hungarian family and their mutiple problems from the 1940s to current. Narrated by James Ellroy, ... See full summary »


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Title: Vakvagany (2002)

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Cast overview:
Stan Brakhage ...
Roy Menninger ...
Himself (as Dr. Roy Menninger)
Erno Locsei ...
Himself (archive footage)
Atuska Locsei ...
Herself (archive footage)


A strange film employing old home movies and newly shot footage in an effort to expose one Hungarian family and their mutiple problems from the 1940s to current. Narrated by James Ellroy, Stan Brakhage, and Dr. Roy Menninger. Written by Anonymous

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31 May 2002 (USA)  »

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$20,000 (estimated)

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Strange but effective detective film / documentary
15 October 2004 | by (NYC) – See all my reviews

The subject is a Hungarian family at first only known by a set of "found" home movies. The filmmaker (who apparently has commented here about his own movie) goes off on a search to find the subjects of the home movies. He does and films the wretched lives of the children, now grown and in their middle ages. Apparently not enough comes of this so the film maker enlists an unusual trio of commentators to view and react to the footage; a novelist, a psychiatrist and an avant-garde film maker. The result?

A very disturbing glimpse into a ruined family. The commentators' opinions come at the same time as your own as they react to footage at the same time you see it. Some times they are insightful, other times just confused. Interestingly, the avant-garde film maker's comments are frequently the most insightful. Many things are not explained as a standard documentary would try to do. Perhaps the film makers were at a loss at what they had filmed when it was finished but that's not a drawback. You have to involve yourself with the mystery to really watch this film.

A word on the "disturbing" end, namely the son's visit to his sister and the drinking binge right before it. It's clear that the film maker didn't know that the son would consume two full bottles of wine (gifts from the film maker) before the trip to his sister. Filming it was part of the story. The break-in happens after the son (who is mentally retarded) starts to worry about his sister who lived with him all his life, but hasn't spoken to him for a while now that they live apart. The actual entry into the house is done by a neighbor of the sister and the first view of her filthy kitchen made me think that she had been deceased for a long time. The sister is first seen sleeping, oblivious to the noise in her house, as if dead. She is extremely paranoid and quite crazy. she refuses to talk about her father except for a last comment that says tons about the man.

A great film about the results of parents who smother the emotional growth of their children. The method of delivery, however, will not please many people.

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