You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Prosecution

For many years it was impossible for Hungarian filmmakers to explore what happened to the civilian population when the Red army entered the country during World War II. Now, vet docu and feature director Sandor Sara has come up with a devastating, often shocking, depiction of the effect on one peasant family of the Russian invasion. Based on true events, the film spares the viewer few of the horrors, and is almost too filled with hate to be successful as drama. It had only modest box office returns when released in October. Set in the winter of 1944, pic focuses upon the Pasztor family, who live on a farm far from the nearest town. Istvan Pasztor is a rather weak man, dominated by his doughty wife who runs the place and worships her only son, Peter, a soldier in the Hungarian army. In addition to Peter, the Pasztors have four daughters --- one still a child, two teens and the eldest married with a son, though her husband is missing in action.

With:
With: Sandor Szakacsi, Kati Lazar, Zoltan Varga, Zsolt Anger, Kitty Keri, Julia Fazakas, Agnes Kovacs, Igor Csernevics.

When Peter returns home on a 24-hour leave, his mother persuades him to desert, and when Hungarian soldiers come looking for him, she hides him. But the greater danger proves to come from the victorious Russian troops, who invade the farm to loot everything they can carry away, while insisting, “We take only what’s necessary.”

Scenes in which the Russians behead chickens and geese before carting them off, and kill the farm dog, are likely to upset some audiences. When two soldiers return later with rape in mind, Peter takes his service revolver and kills one and wounds the other, who escapes.

An investigation takes place, led by a Russian officer who sadistically delights in tormenting the terrified peasants. He himself executes the wounded soldier, and forces Peter and his father to confess to the two killings in order to save themselves.

Needless to say, all ends badly. In another scene, the teenage girls are gang-raped in a muddy field by Russian soldiers, though their officers later solemnly assert that “soldiers of the liberating Red army never rape defenseless women.” Peter tries to escape and is shot in the back; near death, he is thrown into an old wooden bathtub to face trial, along with both his parents.

Even at the height of the Cold War, it’s hard to imagine a Hollywood film that would have dared depict Russians as the beasts they are shown to be in Sara’s film. The director’s anger is palpable, but he tends to overstate his case, and the result is an at times heavy-handed and extremely downbeat drama.

Performances are all excellent, with Kati Lazar as the stoic wife deservedly winning the best actress nod from the Hungarian Film Week’s official jury. Film has a grainy look, suggesting it’s been blown up to 35 mm from 16 mm.

Pic ends with the revelation that in 1992 a Russian military court decreed that Istvan Pasztor, his wife and son were guilty of “performing terrorist crimes against the Red army,” but that their daughters, two of whom died in Russian camps, were, after all, innocent.

The Prosecution

Hungarian

Production: An Objektiv Filmstudio-Cinema Film production, with the support of MMA, Telefilm. (International sales: InterPannonia, Budapest.) Produced by Janos Rozsa. Directed by Sandor Sara. Screenplay, Sandor Sara, Nandor Gion.

Crew: Camera (color), Balazs Sara; editor, Hajnal Sello; music, Zoltan Jeney; production design, Sandor Kallay; sound, Istvan Sipos; assistant director, Istvan Mag. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 9, 1997. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Sandor Szakacsi, Kati Lazar, Zoltan Varga, Zsolt Anger, Kitty Keri, Julia Fazakas, Agnes Kovacs, Igor Csernevics.

More Film

  • 'Profile' Review: Timur Bekmambetov's Lurid Online

    Berlin Film Review: 'Profile'

    When Peter returns home on a 24-hour leave, his mother persuades him to desert, and when Hungarian soldiers come looking for him, she hides him. But the greater danger proves to come from the victorious Russian troops, who invade the farm to loot everything they can carry away, while insisting, “We take only what’s necessary.” […]

  • 'Black Panther' Heading to Box Office

    Box Office: 'Black Panther' Heads to Glory With $235 Million Holiday Weekend

    When Peter returns home on a 24-hour leave, his mother persuades him to desert, and when Hungarian soldiers come looking for him, she hides him. But the greater danger proves to come from the victorious Russian troops, who invade the farm to loot everything they can carry away, while insisting, “We take only what’s necessary.” […]

  • 'U - July 22' Review: A

    Berlin Film Review: 'U - July 22'

    When Peter returns home on a 24-hour leave, his mother persuades him to desert, and when Hungarian soldiers come looking for him, she hides him. But the greater danger proves to come from the victorious Russian troops, who invade the farm to loot everything they can carry away, while insisting, “We take only what’s necessary.” […]

  • Berlinale: 'The War Has Ended' Awarded

    Berlinale: 'The War Has Ended' Awarded Two Co-Production Market Prizes

    When Peter returns home on a 24-hour leave, his mother persuades him to desert, and when Hungarian soldiers come looking for him, she hides him. But the greater danger proves to come from the victorious Russian troops, who invade the farm to loot everything they can carry away, while insisting, “We take only what’s necessary.” […]

  • The Greatest Showman on Earth

    Japan Box Office: ‘Greatest Showman’ Pitches up as Weekend Winner

    When Peter returns home on a 24-hour leave, his mother persuades him to desert, and when Hungarian soldiers come looking for him, she hides him. But the greater danger proves to come from the victorious Russian troops, who invade the farm to loot everything they can carry away, while insisting, “We take only what’s necessary.” […]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    Korea Box Office: ‘Black Panther’ Rules Holiday Weekend

    When Peter returns home on a 24-hour leave, his mother persuades him to desert, and when Hungarian soldiers come looking for him, she hides him. But the greater danger proves to come from the victorious Russian troops, who invade the farm to loot everything they can carry away, while insisting, “We take only what’s necessary.” […]

  • IN DEN GÄNGEN (R: Thomas Stuber);

    Berlin: Music Box Buys U.S. Rights to Thomas Stuber's 'In the Aisles'

    When Peter returns home on a 24-hour leave, his mother persuades him to desert, and when Hungarian soldiers come looking for him, she hides him. But the greater danger proves to come from the victorious Russian troops, who invade the farm to loot everything they can carry away, while insisting, “We take only what’s necessary.” […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content