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12 August 1945, 11 AM. Two mysterious strangers, dressed in black, Jews, appear at the railway station of a Hungarian village. In the shadow of Russian occupation, the people of the village are preparing for the wedding of the son of the town clerk. The bride's former fiance returns from captivity. Within a few hours, everything changes. Secrets, sins, reckoning, love, betrayal, confrontation.Written by
Not as compelling as that other recent Holocaust related movie from Hungary
As "1945" (2017 release from Hungary; 91 min.) opens, we are reminded by the radio news anchor that it is "Friday, August 12, 1945, 10 o'clock", the day the US drops a second atomic bomb on Japan and WW II is all but over. In a remote Hungarian village, a man (we later learn he is the Town Clerk, in essence the Mayor) and his family are getting ready for the new day. It's a big day as his son is getting married. Meanwhile, a train arrives at the town's train station and getting off are two Orthodox Jews. They brought with them two large crates. The train stationmaster is alarmed for some reason, and dashes off to inform the Town Clerk. Why is the stationmaster alarmed? what does the Town Clerk do? and what is in those crates? At this point we are 10 minutes into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this movie is co-written and directed by Hungary's Ferenc Torok. He tackles a delicate time in Hungary's history, when WW II is ending, the Soviets are there to stay, and Jews are returning (at least those that were lucky enough to survive the Holocaust). It has the potential of being a terrific story and movie, and while the movie certainly isn't bad, neither is it great, For that, the story is brought too stilted and too acted (you can practically hear the director yell "and... ACTION!" as you watch the actors on the screen. Many horrible things were done to the Jews in and after WW II, and that needs to be exposed. But I'd rather see it done in a riveting movie, say Hungary's other recent Holocaust drama, the 2016 Oscar-winning "Son of Saul", which purely as a movie is MILES better than "1945", I'm afraid. Please note that, like "son of Saul", "1945 is shot in remarkable B&W.
"1945" premiered at last year's Berlin Film Festival, and now more than a year later, appeared out of the blue on a single screen for all of Southwest Florida. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at a few weekends ago was attended so-so (less than 10 people). If you are interested in WW II or the treatment of Jews at that time, I'd suggest you check out "1945" in the theater (unlikely at this point), on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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