Theme of Miklos Jancso’s new pic, the first Hungarian-Soviet coproduction, is an episode in the 1918-22 civil war in Russia. Somewhere in Russia, two forces fight each other: a unit of the Red Army, which also includes Hungarian Internationalists, and a group of White Guards, mainly former Tsarist officers. It seems that there is only one aim, to liquidate the other side.
Jancso concentrates his message on the philosophical problem of life and death. Unknown and nameless men enter history in a given moment and after some time they step out of the scene with their death.
In a remote hospital, a dozen nurses look after the wounded soldiers, both Whites and Reds. A White Guard unit arrives. They take all the nurses by coaches to a wood. The tension of this scene increases the underlying fear that the nurses will be executed. Instead, the eight nurses, dressed in evening gowns, have to dance to the music of a military orchestra.
Film is as merciless as the necessity which activates history. There is no stirring spectacle in it. The dialogue is limited almost to military commands.
The camera moves without ceasing. This continuous movement, and the continuity of internal cutting, creates a strong tension.