Delta (2008) Poster


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A young man comes back from wandering to his home town on the Danube (in Romania). We don't know how long he's been gone or much about what he's been doing. When people ask him intrusive questions he just stares at them. He looks very ragged, like he hasn't had a shave or a haircut in three months.

He finds out when he briefly visits mum that he's got a half-sister called Fauna. He decides he wants to live out in the marshes of the delta, and Fauna runs off with him, in an incestuous fever. Some of you may have heard of the phenomenon referred to as Genetic Sexual Attraction. This is when siblings live apart until they meet at adulthood, at which point they feel an overwhelming sexual attraction for one another. So just in case anyone would feel the incestuous side of the story is unrealistic, I promise you it isn't.

Mihail and Fauna live in a shack in the delta, building a house on stilts in the middle of the lake during the daytime. This is presumably so they can get away from the copious amphibians, and the toad chorus that is their bedtime accompaniment. The toads actually may well represent the townspeople.

It's a pretty minimalistic and slow film (the credits include a thanks to Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky), with marvellous cinematography. Cinematographer Mátyás Erdély is into his abstract patterns and we see some great shots for example of timber stacks and swirling inky black water. There's also a panning shot of the delta that would make a Dutch genre painter salivate, and a funeral scene that would stir the bones of Tarkovsky. There are moments to sigh and gasp at the cinematography.

It's obvious all along that things aren't going to end well. Fauna's stepfather is jealous and the local scum have decided that Fauna and Mihail are setting themselves up above everyone else. What is beautiful, tear it down.

The film reminds me of an aphorism I heard once heard, there are two peasants, the first of whom has a cow. The second peasant is visited by God who says that he is willing to grant him one wish; the ignorant peasant's wish is that God kills his neighbour's cow.

It's not a licentious film; there is no emphasis on the incest and the sex side of things. However there are scenes that are not for the faint of heart.

Some reviewers have tried to paint a picture of this film as incomprehensible; don't be misled into believing that. There are even mystical touches to this film, there's something deep and primal and wet about the delta; I felt almost like I was waste deep in water at points. The delta is maybe about a closeness to God, or whatever secular equivalent you feel deep within. The delta is where the land crumbles away, it's fertile and gliding into an ocean. Forget it's the Danube and the Black Sea, and feel the essence, the fertility, the clarity, and the flow. At the end I was left with the raw taste of vodka and watermelon, and an intense feeling of immense communal jealousy.
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Painfully bitter
LazySod22 June 2009
The scene consists of the wetlands around a large river. The people are a family and a number of people from the small village they live in. Life is on a pretty much normal path until one of the family members, a man in his thirties, returns after a period of being away. He wants to live in a cabin he wants to build himself, right in the middle of the wetlands. All starts off well. He's getting the materials he needs for the building, the provisions he needs for living. Then he gets company - his sister joins him in the building of the cabin. And as time passes by and the cabin starts to take shape, things start to turn a bit ugly - the two of them cross a border that brother and sister should not cross.

And there is the tale of the film. How does one deal with a taboo like this? Brother and sister as a pair. Can one accept it? Or is it something that should not be tolerated, no matter the costs of breaking them up? This film, worked out very soberly (which is an absolute plus), shows how people respond to something like this happening and draws a very fine line between trying to grow sympathy for the brother and sister - and a cooler distance towards the people of the town. The ending is easy to predict - it is inevitable given the situation. It's a bitter pill though. And so we have it: a harsh message packed in the most sober wrapping.

8 out of 10 pained relatives
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Disagreeing with The Guardian: A response to P. Bradshaw and J. Patterson's criticism of the film
velvethighpeace14 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I must admit that I totally disagree with P. Bradshaw and J. Patterson's views on the film. I thought the movie's handling of subjects such as incest and rape is subtle and non-exploitative, leaving them as secondary elements within the structure of the film. None of the scenes involving these seem to be trying to shock the viewer, so I don't understand P. Bradshaw and J. Patterson's points.

To me 'Delta' is one of the discoveries of the year. It is beautiful as a sensorial experience and, like a classical piece, outstanding in its economy. Furthermore, and despite its maybe hasty resolution, it is far superior to Bela Tarr's latest effort, Mr Bradshaw.

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unfinished movie but still beautiful
jimqt27 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The main actor died half way through the movie. Thus a film which was supposed to be about revenge must be changed into a film about love. The ending was i felt a little weak maybe because of this.

But still despite this the scenery was superb. The sounds and immenseness of the delta. The tough primitive life of the folk. The ignorance the drink. The subject was real.

That brothers and sisters who have never met and the meet can form strong sexual bonds is well known. This subject is covered well here.

A couple who where hurting no one are destroyed by the dark forces of bigotry and violence.
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konya-s11 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Mundruczo Kornél's latest movie is not just one of the best Hungarian movies ever made, but I can tell you honestly that Delta is one of the best movies of all time. Well it's not for everybody, not for the popcorn-audience. If your room is full with HSM posters and pictures, well this film is not for you. But if you like art movies and movies that makes you think you will love every second of it. It's slow but that's not a problem. The two main character is brilliantly played by Tóth Orsi and Lajkó Félix. They're both done a great job. Congratulation! The camera work is amazing, there is some long-long shots I liked them. The scene where Orsi got raped, now that was pretty disturbing but brilliantly filmed I can say that. The ending was sad and haunting, but necessary I think. As I said before it's not a damn popcorn-movie, don't expect happy end, you will not gonna get it! Sad movie. But man...What a masterpiece! Must see!
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Hungarian Deliverence
johno-2111 January 2009
I recently saw this at the 2009 Palm Springs International Film Festival. Mihail (Felix Lajko) has saved his money in the city to return to the village where his mother (Lili Monori) lives with her boyfriend (Sandor Gaspar) and his half sister Fauna (Orsolya Toth). Mihail sets out to build a house on the river delta on land his father owned. Fauna helps Mihail with the construction and lives in a hut with him while the construction his under way. The villagers consider Mihail an outsider and are opposed to the idea of a half brother and sister living alone together. Writer/director Kornel Mandruczo in a script co-written by Yvette Biro offers this rural tale of a developing incestuous relationship in a film beautifully shot by cinematographer Matyas Erdely and superbly edited by David Jancso. The film looks so good that every scene is a virtual painting but the storyline is a little weak with underdeveloped characters, weak dialog and a plodding pace. This perhaps may have worked better as a 20 minute short film but stretched out into a feature with little background on the characters and village life weakens it. I would give this a 6.5 out of 10.
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Bigotry in the Delta
Colin-23516 January 2010
Having difficulty understanding other reviewers, including major film critics, description of the film. The central sexual encounter is a violent rape by the stepfather - not incest. At no point do we see any incest or I would suggest any hint of incest. Brotherly love we do see, but in such a way as the bigoted may well encounter incest in there minds. As is the incest is in the eyes of those who cannot read the film, as it is in the peasants who cannot tolerate the intruder. A perfect image of misreading occurs when we have silhouettes behind a sheet, cleverly implying a sexual reading, only for us to be brought short when we realise it is the pegging out of the washing. What we do see is male violence to women. We learn that the half-brother is much affected by nursing a girl who had got pregnant " I had to nurse her, the baby was stillborn, But she disappeared" Owes a bit too much to Bela Tarr and Agnes Hranitzky, and these bit come over as mannered. Given better fortunes in the making of the film the pacing may well have been better considered. and the overly beautiful camera better integrated into the story, a story which was rescued in the making.
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If you like it slooow and are a fan of Eastern Europe, you will love Delta
chimie6 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Brother returns to his remote birth's village (in this case to the Danube Delta) where he meets his sister – seemingly for the first time. Their affiliation toward each other – and the fact that she moves to him and helps to build a riverside house – embarrasses the community, making the end of the film tragic.

For me, the simplicity of the story alone wouldn't be a fault: it makes only the task of the director heavier. With perfection in the details and brilliant acting this simplicity could have been a strength, unfortunately this movie lacks these. Lili Monori, the mother (and partly Orsolya Tóth, the daughter) , plays a realistic and elaborate character, but the others (among them most strikingly our protagonist, played by Félix Lajkó) just doesn't really fit to the environment / their roles.

The other problem is with the cut: there are many scenes without any role, others seem to be very long compared with their contribution to the plot. In some cases the dramaturgy is at least mysterious as well: we see Fauna in the party at the end, for example. Some people are starting to shaft her in the party, then she leaves the safe crowd alone (so that those people can kill her)– would anyone do that?! Or there is another key momentum, the raping scene: her mother is like 50 meters away and still doesn't follow from the house what's happening?!

So why I gave 6 out of 10 for a movie with so many weaknesses? First of all because of the cinematography and music (also by Lajkó Félix) and the representation of the delta landscape. For fans of Eastern Europe some scenes will surely be unforgettable (like when they are tearing the bread and pour brandy onto it), and there are some 3-4 scenes of brilliant atmosphere (e.g. the first encounter of Fauna and Mihal). I believe when cut to about 70 minutes this movie could have been much better.
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As much as I hate criticizing alternative movies...
pulp_post24 April 2010
... I think that Delta is a very bad movie, in the sense that the plot is not not developed enough as carry the film and the acting is extremely poorly directed and conducted.

Paradoxically though, it has some of the most amazing photography and camera work that I've ever seen, so in a way it sadly becomes the purest example of what is the typical alternative European movie these days (with some exceptions, of course!): beautiful, but bad. So bad that it seems like some sort of sketch making a parody of European movies, so bad that it makes it even funny.

The main actor spends all the time looking down, probably trying to give the impression of living in some deep state of introspection. The girl gets raped every time she goes out. The nicest character is a small turtle playing the role of itself. They fortunately hardly speak. End of.

Delta wants to sound like some deep work of art, but it is just artificial and extremely pretentious in the end of the day. Horrible movie, wonderful painting.
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Wannabe eastern European "artfilm", very pretentious.
tilllt31 January 2009
This film is a very bad example of uninspired storytelling, which tries to hide behind an "artfilm" facade, trying to shock the audience with unmotivated violence (against women) to cover up for it's lack of psychological depth of the characters & internal conflicts. Everything in this movie is pretentious, from the thank you's to Bela tarr at the beginning, to the photography, the acting, music, the story & editing. When suddenly, without reason, you are forced to watch close ups of "charismatic" looking hungarian country people in their boats, while the soundtrack is trying to persuade you that this is supposed to be a dramatic moment, although they are only on the way to the funeral of the local alcoholic, thats one thing. Putting completely unmotivated rape scenes as a shocker is a different thing, for which i absolutely have no comprehension. This movie is trying really hard to enter a certain genre of artistic (east European drama kind of) films but lacks the subtlety, observational skills and "soul" that other directors have.
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People Must Different Eyes
dreamgoat2828 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I'm all for art and wand creativity when it comes to movies and even looking outside my own culture. I saw nothing that will say masterpiece like someone of these people are writing about. And somewhat a little outraged by some of the parts on here. The movie will drag you in to a story, someone of which I was yawning through gaps of nothing really happening. Didn't feel no forbidden anything that will make you feel like you need to turn away, or a forbidden love. The movie had me saying was this a film or a skit of one. To better explain you can skip parts in the movie and you will not get or miss anything from a person that watched the whole thing. Only thing that was dramatic and sad was the rape and to me that's not forbidden that's monstrous. Yea some will say jealousy and all that in truth you won't connect with any of the characters. You only have body language, but what these men keep doing to the daughter and the mother know this crap is going on is mind blowing. NO masterpiece in my book, if your going go full dark than make it a dark masterpiece by putting more bonding with characters. It would of been better if they didn't say anything, that was short of an understanding it was.
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logenbacsi7 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Hungary can't make any good movies. Fact. This is a great example of that.

First of all the term "plot" does not exist in this movie. It's seriously weak. Even tho a lot of people would argue with me on that. Sure, it's about a taboo, but that's about it. There are endless possibilities, which could have been really great, if used, but they nearly skipped everything. I think the whole movie is just an excuse to show pictures, which are the only decent things in this whole pile of awfulness.

The acting is just plain shitty. There aren't many lines, so you would think that the actors have great facial expressions or mimicking abilities, but no. In fact, 86% of the time, they suck. And that's when they don't say anything. If they say even a single word, you'll start tilting your head, saying: "That's damn unrealistic". But than again, this is partly the fault of the writing. There's also no emotion in most of the dialogs.

The editing is sometimes OK, but most of the time illogical and just worsens the whole picture. It could have given an emotional push, yet it seems the editing in here is all about putting cuts after each other.

Someone please explain it to me, why critics say this movie is a masterpiece. Calling this an "Art" isn't gonna make it better. Sorry Mundruczo, but you failed. Live with it. Even tho you probably won't care about my or any other guys opinion scarifying your "child".
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like a prey
Vincentiu23 January 2014
cold beauty. brutal scenes. amazing images. a house in delta. a movie like a poem. clear, fragile, fruit of silence who grow - up in middle of words. a film from East and that fact is demonstrated by its role of testimony. a film about sense. honest at whole, using actors as parts of nature, reflecting a special form of pain, almost a sketch, it is touching and good occasion to discover the roots of world . two people. and a community. symbols, dark emotions and a religious veil who defines each scene. a movie who has transform the viewer in part of it. only for the frame of questions. for precision to remember details. for the cruelty scenes. for its end who seems be last part of a travel behind the world. a movie as prey. or meditation. a honest and admirable exercise to translate the silence out of common expectations.
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Darkness On The Delta
writers_reign24 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Glossy it ain't. Musical it ain't. Funny it ain't. I could go on but you get the picture. It suffers from lack of cohesion. Lots of great shots. Lots of HELD shots. If 'lingering' camera-work was a category at Oscar time this one would be right up there with the contenders. It seems to be trying for a 'mood' and missing by a half note. Think Chekhov crossed with Brecht or Neil Simon and you're getting there. What plot there is consists of a guy turning up out of the blue into a close-knit community in a fairly remote area. Says he's looking for his mother, finds her complete with new lover (no mention of father). She lays a grown sister he didn't know about on him. Guy decides to stick around and built a house on stilts in the middle of East Jesus. Sister decides to help and for her trouble is raped by mom's lover. Everything ends in tears. What can I tell you.
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