- The Round-Up (1965 film)
name = The Round-Up
writer = Gyula Hernádi
starring = János Görbe
editing = Zoltán Farkas
runtime = 95 minutes
country = Hungary
language = Hungarian
imdb_id = 0059776
"The Round-Up" ("Szegénylegények") is a 1965 Hungarian film directed by
Miklós Jancsó. It was well-received in its home country, and the first of the director's films to also receive international acclaim.
Following the quelling of
Lajos Kossuth's 1848 revolution against Habsburg rule in Hungary, prison camps were set up for people suspected of being Kossuth's supporters. Around 20 years later, some members of famed highwayman Sándor Rózsa's guerilla band, believed to be some of Kossuth's last supporters, are known to be interred among the prisoners in a camp. During the film, the prison staff try to weed out and identify the rebels and find out if Sándor is among them using various means of mental and physical torture and trickery. When one of the guerillas, János Gajdar, is identified as a murderer by an old woman, he starts aiding his captors by acting as an informant. Gajdar is told that if he can show his captors a man who has killed more people than himself, he will be spared. Fearing for his life, he turns in several people his captors had been looking for by name, but couldn't identify among the prisoners.
Eventually Gajdar becomes an outcast among the prisoners, and is murdered at night by some of his fellow inmates while in solitary confinement. The prison guards easily discover suspects, people whose cells had been left unlocked for the night, and start interrogating them with hope of finding Sándor himself. The suspects are tricked into revealing the remaining guerillas when they are given a chance to form a new military unit out of former bandits and informed that Sándor, who was not among the prisoners, has been pardoned. However, the celebrating guerillas are then told that those who previously fought under him, will still face execution.
"The Round-Up" was produced by the Hungarian state film production company
Mafilm. It had a budget of 17 million forints, or around half a million US$ at the exchange rates of the time.cite web| url=http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/02/22/meszaros.html| author=Andrew James Horton| work=sensesofcinema.com| title=Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times – Márta Mészáros interviewed| accessdate=2008-03-27] The screenplay was written by Hungarian author Gyula Hernádi, who Jancsó had met in 1959 and who was a frequent collaborator with the director until Hernádi's death in 2005. The film was shot in widescreen in black and white by another regular Jancsó collaborator, Tamás Somló.
Although it is Jancsó's most famous film, "The Round-Up" does not exhibit many of his trademark elements to the degree to which he would later develop them: thus, the takes are comparatively short and although the camera movements are carefully choreographed they do not exhibit the elaborate fluid style that would become distinctive in later films. The film does, though, use Jancsó's favourite setting, the Hungarian "
puszta" (steppe), shot in characteristically oppressive sunlight. The film has little dialogue and rarely shows any emotion in its characters. It has been called by one critic as "a total absorption of content into form".
Reception and later acclaim
The film was received well by audiences on its initial release in Hungary.cite web| url=http://www.kinoeye.org/03/03/rucinski03.php| author=Krzysztof Rucinski| title=Two men against history. A comparative analysis of films by Miklós Jancsó and Andrzej Wajda|accessdate=2008-03-27] During its theatrical run, the film was seen by over a million people, in a country with a population of around ten million at the time.cite web| url=http://www.kinoeye.org/03/03/interview03.php| title=This silly profession – Miklós Jancsó interviewed| author=Andrew James Horton| accessdate=2008-03-27]
"The Round-Up" was Jancsó's first film to also receive international acclaim.cite book| author=Thomas J. Slater| title=Handbook of Soviet and East European Films and Filmmakers| year=1992| pages=p. 236-238| publisher=Greenwood Press] In 1966, it was the first of five films by the director to be entered in the competition category of the
Cannes Film Festival, but failed to win any awards. The brutal, dictatorial methods depicted in the film were read by local audiences as a partial allegory for the clampdown that happened following Hungary's failed 1956 uprising against Russian-imposed Communism. Therefore before Jancsó was allowed to screen the film in Cannes, he had to make a declaration stating the film had nothing to do with the recent events in the country, even though he later said that "everybody knew it wasn't true". Later in 1966, the film was released in the United Kingdom, and in 1969, it received a limited release in the United States.
The film was included in
Derek Malcolm's "The Century of Films", a list of 100 of the critic's favorite films from the 20th century.cite web| url=http://film.guardian.co.uk/Century_Of_Films/Story/0,4135,384748,00.html| title=Miklos Jancso: The Round-Up| author=Derek Malcolm| work= The Guardian| accessdate=2008-03-27]
*imdb title|title=The Round-Up|id=0059776
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