8.6/10
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A tanú (1969)

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 »

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Péter Bacsó
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Cast

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 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
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Storyline

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

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Plot Keywords:

hungary | comrade | dike | pig | satire | See All (42) »

Genres:

Drama | Comedy

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Hungary

Language:

Hungarian

Release Date:

18 June 1982 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

A testemunha See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Several scenes, including a visit by Pelikán (Ferenc Kállai) at Dániel's (Zoltán Fábri) prison cell was cut by state-censorship. See more »

Quotes

Pelikán József, gátõr: [upon seeing his newly built house] Comrade Virág! No doors? No windows?
See more »

Connections

Followed by Megint tanú (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Jaj, cica
Music by Emmerich Kálmán
Lyrics by Leo Stein and Béla Jenbach
Performed by Róbert Rátonyi
See more »

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User Reviews

 
There is more to reality than it seems - background info
5 May 2007 | by szpierreSee all my reviews

There is much more to reality in this movie than it seems. Many of the characters, motives and stories are based on reality. The main story line - the concept trial of minister Daniel and his group is about the concept trial of communist leader and minister Rajk. He was an ideologist communist and they said that he could be the next leader of Hungary after Rakosi who was the Stalinist leader of Hungary between 1949 and 1956. Rajk had different ideas than Rakosi on many questions. He got apprehended in 1949. He had a public trial where everything was pre-arranged. The false accusation and the testimonies of the witnesses were written by Rákosi's administration and Moscow. The witnesses were prepared and trained by the ÁVH (Hungarian KGB). Many intellectuals actually did believe in communism but after the Rajk trial and the mystic disappearance of people on a mass scale showed everyone the true face of the Rákosi regime. It was very uncertain whether Bacsó can make the film at all. The party made some suggestions. For example the original script referred to the traitor Daniel as the "Daniel gang" like Rajk and his friends were called the "Rajk gang". The censors asked Bacsó to alter the term "gang" to "group" as the term gang was a too clear reference to Rajk.

The characters: - There was a major party member and army general who was the model of comrade Bástya. - Comrade Virág was based on the much feared ÁVH leader Péter Gábor. ÁVH did took a lot of people from their homes in the middle of the night in black, curtained cars. They tried to convince and break people by being both brutal and nice. Comrade Virág uses all kind of methods to drive Pelikán to be the key witness. Also the clothes of the ÁVH agents are very much like the real and Virág's room has many references how some party leaders were thinking and living.

Pelikán's jobs: - Swimming pool: There was a major party member who used to get one of Budapest's major swimming pools emptied when he wanted to swim. This comrade kept this habit even in the seventies. - Theme park: The original name of the Hungarian theme park was really English Park that has changed sometime in the Rákosi regime. Also the scenic railway really had a communist version where they showed how the society evolved (according to Engels' theory). - Hungarian orange: It is true that Hungarians wanted to grow orange in Hungary. The project was launched by Rákosi himself.

There are also a lot of references in the movie to real persons and events most of which can be understood by the ones actually lived in Hungary in the 50's. Bacsó said that the last scene where comrade Virág and Pelikán met on the tram and the tram door closed very much resembled the days when the film was made. Although the Stalinist Rákosi regime was over the and the prisoners of the 50's and their guards were still there. They traveled on the closed tram together like fishes in an aquarium.


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