Review: ‘Herminafield: Apparitions’

In the footsteps of Jan Svankmajer, Guy Maddin and the Brothers Quay comes "Herminafields: Apparitions," a singular visual achievement that employs tabletop models and dolls to tell the true-life 1956 story of a clinic full of disabled patients in a Hungarian village who attempted to fend off advancing Russian tanks with eight rifles and 12 hand grenades.

In the footsteps of Jan Svankmajer, Guy Maddin and the Brothers Quay comes “Herminafields: Apparitions,” a singular visual achievement that employs tabletop models and dolls to tell the true-life 1956 story of a clinic full of disabled patients in a Hungarian village who attempted to fend off advancing Russian tanks with eight rifles and 12 hand grenades. A must for experimental confabs and sidebars, this curio could also find favor in mainstream fest and on tube.

Camera hovers over the model of the village, as dispassionate narrator (helmer Peter Halasz) sets the scene. Actors appear behind plastic masks, and a submerged chessboard and floating doll heads suggest the main hall of a spa. An enraged baboon attacks Czech tourists. Cumulative effect is disorienting, disturbing and singular. An avant-garde theater figure for decades, Halasz is known for using dolls in his work. Though dying of cancer, he’s using his dying in his art by lying in a coffin as part of an exhibit in a Budapest museum. Considering its 77-minute running time, “Herminafields: Apparitions” curiously won the award for experimental short film at the recent Hungarian Film Week. No editor credit appears.

Herminafield: Apparitions

Production

An Inforg Studios, Lichtof production. Produced by Andras Muhi, Erik Novak, Peter Halasz. Directed, written by Peter Halasz.

Crew

Camera (color), Erik Novak, Andras Juhasz, Otto Juhasz, Marton Vizkeleti; music, Vilmos Vajdal; production designer, Istvan Diak. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week (Experimental and Short Films), Budapest, Feb. 3, 2006. Running time: 77 MIN.

With

Peter Takatsky, Gyorgyi Kari, Istvan Diak, Terez Vass, Bela Stubyna.
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