The growth of a youth into manhood is explored here via the use of real and imaginary flashbacks to life with father, a doctor who died just after the end of the last World War, leaving his young son with a number of confused memories. As he grows, the child becomes slowly obsessed by the father’s continuing influence on his life, and he unconsciously begins inventing wartime exploits with the partisans and other exaggerated achievements to further the hero image which, he finds, rubs off on him with his fellow-pupils.
In his second feature pic, young Hungarian director Istvan Szabo is especially good in his brief, sketch-like notations, either real or imagined, in which the boy recalls or constructs his father’s past. This is real, solid, moving yet unsentimental stuff, and it’s beautifully illustrated as well by Sandor Sara’s camerawork with its nostalgic glimpses of the past.
Pic also avoids no issues, thorny or not, and its integration of the 1956 Hungarian uprising is apt and honest, as are such other topics as early befuddlement with Marxism or the problems of a Jewish minority in Budapest.
Acting is uniformly good, with Miklos Gabor lending his personality to the role of father. Andras Balint is able in the role of the youth.