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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

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Did You Know?


The character Comrade Virágh is the satire of the all powerful secret police general of the era Gábor Péter. This is very obvious when Virágh is speaking highly of Pelican's jacket as the civil job of Péter was a tailor. See more »


Bástya elvtárs: [after reading the testimony of Pelikán] What's this? People don't even want to murder Comrade Bástya anymore? I'm worth shit nowadays?
Tuschinger: The previous trial... I didn't want to repeat myself. But I'll correct it. After our wise leader, Comrade Bástya was to be murdered.
See more »


Followed by Megint tanú (1995) See more »


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

User Reviews

A Hungarian Orange.
25 April 2005 | by MilesPieriSee all my reviews

That Bacso Peter's devastating satire was banned by the Hungarian authorities for almost a decade will come as no surprise to anyone lucky enough to see this film. You might be left wondering, however, why or how it was eventually granted clearance while communism still held sway in the country. Perhaps it was the pure, blatant cheekiness of the movie? Or perhaps the government of the time realised there was something to be said for the ability to laugh at oneself? Whatever the reasoning, The Witness stands up as more than a curiosity piece from another era. It's still remarkably fresh, and continues to have much to tell us on the subject of authoritarian bureaucracy. Parts of this film, such as the sequence with the 'Magyar Narancs' (Hungarian Orange) have passed into the countries mass consciousness, and with good reason. In fact, I suspect that as good as this film is you really have to be Hungarian to truly appreciate its subtleties and joys. For the rest of us, however, there are still hilarious moments such as the sausage factory in the basement or Pelikan accidentally being given papers with the pre-determined outcome of a court case. This is a unique, beautiful and powerful political satire and a true Hungarian cinematic treasure.

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Release Date:

6 June 1979 (Hungary) See more »

Also Known As:

A testemunha See more »

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Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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