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Mirage (2014)
"Délibáb" (original title)

5.8
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Mirage tells the story of an African football player in a small Hungarian town, who commits a crime and has to flee. He finds refuge on a farm deep in the Hungarian flatland. Soon he ... See full summary »

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Storyline

Mirage tells the story of an African football player in a small Hungarian town, who commits a crime and has to flee. He finds refuge on a farm deep in the Hungarian flatland. Soon he realizes that the farm is a modern slave camp where he is forced to fight for his freedom and ultimately his life. Written by Anonymous

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Genres:

Drama | Western

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Release Date:

13 November 2014 (Hungary)  »

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Mirage  »

Box Office

Budget:

€1,800,000 (estimated)
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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Slow Paced, Minimalist, Hungarian Version of Django Unchained?
10 September 2014 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Mirage is a film about modern day slavery in the Hungarian Puszta (a place screenwriter Jim Stark suggests never to visit). It is based on the experiences of the Director- and his Social Scientist friend- who had returned to the area where the director had grown up, to investigate how the socio-economic conditions had changed since the fall of Communism. When they returned, they discovered that armed gangs had infiltrated the area and enslaved some of the local populace, who were forced to do hard labour and suffer various hardships.

The film is grounded in the Western genre, which Hajdu (the director) explained, was chosen because it allows for numerous levels of symbolism and a variety of readings. It's certainly a film I appreciated a bit better after having listened to him speak about it, as opposed to immediately after having watched it.

Although there are moments of subtle humour in the film, a good description for western audiences would be that it is a less humorous, much more minimalist and slower-paced, very Hungarian version of Django Unchained. Apparently, the incorporation of a black hero in the film was the result of a mistranslation by an inexperienced translator. But they liked the idea and decided to run with it, according to the director.

Ivorian actor Isaach De Bankolé was brought into the fold by Jim Stark, as they had previously worked together on a number of Jarmusch films. Supposedly, when offered the main role in a "Hungarian Western" he is said to have replied, "why not?!".

The film tells the story of Francis. A football/soccer player from Ivory Coast, who has come to Hungary (possibly) to play for the Hungarian National team (i think), to which he has signed as a striker.

While being transported to a pub through what seems like endless wheatfields, from what seemed to have been a two-man town, on a rickety old steam engine run, by a geriatric engineer...an accident occurs. The decrepit conductor keels over and dies.

Francis manages to get the train to the next town, where he seeks help from the locals- only to find himself locked in a shed, frisked by the police, and handed over into what seems like a bizarre regime of slavery. He's now under the thumb of a small gang who has taken over a remote farming community, whose citizens have been forcibly enslaved.

The work they are forced to do ranges from menial labour to digging mafia-style toxic waste dumps and disposing of bodies.

Even though he is forced to do this hard labour, Francis never really becomes subjugated- despite having his most prized possession stolen from him by the gang's leader. The relationship with his slavers is tenuous, but he manages to retain a sense of freedom throughout. Evident from his willingness to fight back and help others. Making the whole story a tale of redemption.

Hajdu noted that he made this film as an homage to the late Hungarian director- and his personal friend- Milos Jancso (though it's also dedicated to his father).

This is certainly the first Hungarian Western I've seen, at least that I can recall. It wasn't really as action packed and exciting as I was expecting it to be going in. But there is an anarchic, 3-way gun battle in the latter portion of the film that renews your intrigue, granted it had been waning. While overall it's a little bit slow and minimalistic- which might turn some viewers off. In the end, it's not so bad when you are provided with a little background context. Don't expect a masterpiece of cinema or anything...but it's worth checking out if you want a little taste of Hungary. I found the use of multiple languages in the film pretty interesting, and was particularly impressed that they had built 80% of the set from scratch, including the train!

6 out of 10.


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