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A Trojan horse of a musical, with hidden critical social commentary
Here is something you have never seen before. A war musical with dancing naked women, armed men, choreographed walking, communist folk songs and poetic settings.
The film is based on peasant uprisings in Hungary that occurred between 1980 and 1910. The style is like something from a poetic theater. People hardly talk and everything is very staged. You might even say fake. Well, I suspect the message of the film is in the style. It is fake because communism and its origin was fake. It was an Utopia based on a lie. Miklós Jancsó was a socialist but not a communist (most people confuse the two) and he was critical of the direction his country was taking (as can be seen in other films by him). Here he gets the communist government to finance a film that looks like a glorious praise of the origin of the party while the style is telling us that this is all a staged lie. Don't believe it, any more than you believe that all these scenes are a realistic account of what happened.
The music is brilliant. Folk songs, many probably used in the peasant uprisings. I also liked the staging and the poetic imagery, like how a stigmata wound in the hand turned into a red flower, which looks like a French Revolution rosette cockade pin. And how many will die only because of one shot fired. And the use of doves, as symbols of peace and harmony, was beautiful. And the naked women? I guess they represent the innocence and the beauty of the peasant, who in their ignorance believed in the promised land.
You might not enjoy this film if you watch it as a straight communist propaganda. Watch it as a clever Trojan horse, pretending to be one thing while smuggling critical social commentary and you might get much more out of it. I for one liked this film for its bravery, its message, poetic beauty and for being like no other musical out there.
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