A film by Miklós Jancsó
Set in 1919, during the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Miklós Jancsó’s The Red and the White (Csillagosok, katonák) is a war film unlike any other. In the brutal Civil War which took place, Hungarian volunteers supported the ‘Red’ revolutionaries in a war of attrition against the ‘White’ counter-revolutionaries who were seeking to restore the old Czarist order.
Through its stylistic virtuosity, ritualistic power and sheer beauty, Jancsó invites us to study the mechanisms of power almost abstractly and with a cold eroticism that clearly portrays the utter futility of war. Although the film was an Hungarian-Russian co-production, the Russian authorities banned it from being shown anywhere in the Soviet Union.
Miklós Jancsó is arguably the key Hungarian filmmaker of the sound era and The Red and the White is the first in a series of his films released by Second Run.