10 user 4 critic

The Witness (1969)

A tanú (original title)
Banned for over a decade for its outspoken criticism of the post-WWII communist regime in Hungary, Péter Bacsó's 'The Witness' has since then achieved unparalleled cult status in its native... See full summary »


Péter Bacsó




Credited cast:
Ferenc Kállai Ferenc Kállai ... Pelikán József, gátõr
Lajos Öze Lajos Öze ... Virág Árpád (as Õze Lajos)
Béla Both Béla Both ... Bástya elvtárs
Zoltán Fábri ... Dániel Zoltán
Lili Monori ... Gizi
Károly Bicskey Károly Bicskey ... Gulyás Elemér
György Kézdy György Kézdy ... Virág testõre
József Horváth József Horváth ... Vasutas
Róbert Rátonyi Róbert Rátonyi ... Operettszínész
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
György Bálint György Bálint
Pál Bánó Pál Bánó ... Bíró
Mária Dudás Mária Dudás ... Gépírónõ
Tibor Fehér Tibor Fehér ... Börtönõr
Károly Garamszegi Károly Garamszegi
György Györffy György Györffy ... Börtönigazgató


Banned for over a decade for its outspoken criticism of the post-WWII communist regime in Hungary, Péter Bacsó's 'The Witness' has since then achieved unparalleled cult status in its native land. Known as the best satire about communism, 'The Witness' has become a cult classic, which was also well received by critics and general audiences alike when it was finally released outside of Hungary. Its candid and realistic portrayal of the incompetent communist regime has earned great acclaim for both the director and the film itself when it was shown at Cannes Film Festival in 1981. 'The Witness' takes place during the height of the Rákosi Era, which was closely modeled after the ruthless and brutal Stalin regime. The film follows the life of an ordinary dike keeper, József Pelikán, who has been caught for illegally slaughtering his pig, Dezsõ. Instead of doing hard time for his "heinous" crime, Pelikán is elevated into an important position, generally reserved for the communist elite. Of ... Written by Zoltan Furedi

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Comedy

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Director Péter Bacsó tried to get as many roles to be played by non-professional actors as possible. In the finished movie there are at least seven cast members who never or rarely had acting experience before: writer/director Zoltán Fábri, stage director Béla Both (who began an acting career after this movie), acting teacher Ida Versényi, language teacher Georgette Mertzhradt, stage director László Vámos, opera singer István Novák and graphic artist József Pecsenke. See more »


Virág Árpád: The international situation is intensifying. We've caught up with the latest group of inner parasites.
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Referenced in Ereszd el a szakállamat! (1975) See more »


Jaj, cica
Music by Emmerich Kálmán
Lyrics by Leo Stein and Béla Jenbach
Performed by Róbert Rátonyi
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User Reviews

The international situation is intensifying!
10 July 2006 | by hakapesSee all my reviews

I'm 29, live in Hungary, but only have seen this movie yesterday. I think, something was missing from my overall general knowledge of us.

The change to freedom from the socialist-communist regime was in 1989, 17 years ago (as of 2006), but all these experiences are so alive in today's people. Especially in the middle age (40-60 year old) generation lived through that time and their mind is vividly remembering. Sentences like the "The situation is intensifying!" (A helyzet fokozódik!), "Life is not a whipped-cream cake!" (Az élet nem habostorta.) are very common to hear. I remember my high school teachers using these phrases very often.

There's even a magazine called Magyar Narancs (Hungarian Orange) - I just didn't know why it is called orange until yesterday. I guess Fidesz, one of the current leader political parties (right wing), has it's color orange because they were related to this magazine during their early times.

There are a lot of elements in the film that are not explained, but everybody knows here. The black car arrived to take someone, to call each other Comrade (this was the natural way to address to others), to eat "tarhonya" again and again.

I just can't understand how this movie could be filmed and then released before 1989 and how the producers didn't finish up in a prison.

Another thing I liked how Pelikan lives his life. When it's time for joy, he is happy, when is time to move on, he moves on, he takes life as it comes. Going with the flow in the sense of Buddhists. He knows who he is, what he is capable of and lives true to his own values. And so he is living what life brings in front of him and happy with that.

This is a wonderful movie and is a must to understand daily life in Hungary. So, just rent it and watch it! 10/10

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Release Date:

6 June 1979 (Hungary) See more »

Also Known As:

A testemunha See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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