An excerpt from the booklet essay by Tony Rayns

Silence and Cry (Csend és kiáltás, 1968) is rooted in a very specific history, but nobody would call it an exercise in historical reconstruction. It opens with grainy photographs from 1919 (they look like frame-grabs from a silent newsreel, cropped for the 'Scope frame) showing Admiral Miklós Horthy’s assumption of power in Hungary in 1919; international release prints originally overlaid these images with a text explaining that the ‘counter-revolutionary’ Horthy crushed Béla Kun’s short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic and began hunting and killing Kun’s supporters across the country. (Horthy was made Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1920 and ruled throughout the inter-war period; he banned the Arrow Cross fascists – Hungarian Nazis – as well as the communists, although the ‘White Terror’ he launched against the Reds was itself fascistic.) Miklós Jancsó had already shown the 1919 mass-slaughter of Hungarian volunteers in the Russian civil war in his previous film The Red and the White (Csillagosok, katonák, 1967 - also available on Second Run), and he returned to the 1919 Republic of Councils in Agnus Dei (1971). In Andrew James Horton’s excellent Kinoeye interview, Jancsó refers to 1919 as one of the ‘special moments in Hungarian history’.

But Jancsó was never interested in writing history as such, and none of his films set in the past makes any serious attempt to reconstruct accurate historical detail, not even in matters of language or dress. (I’m guessing that this is just as true of the later comedies, which I haven’t seen, as it is of the ‘revolutionary’ films of the earlier years.) None of the films set in 1919 sets out to tell us literally what happened at that ‘special moment’. To examine how the films actually do work is to get to the core of Jancsó’s aims and methods – in other words, to the core of his poetry. This is not the same as analysing his ‘formalism’ or counting the number of shots in his long-take films, but rather to ask why and how his distinctive and idiosyncratic work resonated with audiences at home and abroad, especially in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


Silence and Cry was the first of his films shot by János Kende, and it pushed his choreographic approach to political conflicts towards greater abstraction. Nothing in the film itself refers to any verifiable facts about the persecution of Reds in 1919. On the contrary, Jancsó and his regular co-writer Gyula Hernády have devised an entirely fictional situation in a farming village on the Hungarian plains and have made it deliberately enigmatic by withholding information about the characters’ motivations and private thoughts. In some cases, we can’t even be sure if the characters’ political affiliations are based on ideology or on emotional or sexual feelings. The film offers more than one conundrum.


Tony Rayns' complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the release.

Disc Info

Hungary, 1968
Length / Feature
(Blu-ray/24fps): 77 minutes
(DVD/25fps): 74 minutes
Length / Special feature:
32 minutes
DVD: 2.0 Dual Mono
Blu-Ray: 2.0 Dual Mono LPCM (48k/24-bit)
Black and white
Original aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Language: Hungarian

Blu-ray: BD25 / 1080 / 24fps / Region ABC
DVD: PAL / DVD9 / Region 0

Blu-Ray: £19.99
DVD: £12.99
Release Date: 26 Feb 2018


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