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The year 1956 marked a turning point in Hungarian history, and “56 Drops of Blood” honors it with an extravaganza of over-the-top pop patriotism. Effectively a filmed arena show, pic condenses director Attila Bokor’s musical celebration of the student-led uprising (which ultimately resulted in tragedy when Russian tanks rolled back into Budapest) into a “Romeo & Juliet”-style story of star-crossed lovers martyred in the streets — one a handsome Hungarian youth, the other the daughter of an occupying Soviet commander. Bombastic stadium show, which opened Oct. 26 for a limited L.A. run, will appeal almost exclusively to expats.

Seen from a priest’s perspective, overwrought staging lends these sacred, emotionally charged historical events all the kitsch pageantry of a Super Bowl halftime show, complete with flashy pyrotechnics and headset microphones. Even the editing suggests a televised spectacle, dynamically cutting between angles (footage itself was captured over multiple live performances). Music, by Omega composer Tamas Milhaly, ranges across a variety of styles, from Andrew Lloyd Webber-like ballads to full-blown rock anthems. Spoken dialogue has been dubbed into English, while songs — with lines like “They will never oppress me!” — remain in their original language.

56 Drops of Blood

Hungary

  • Production: A Grant Film production. Produced by Endre Nagy. Directed by Attila Bokor. Screenplay, Andras Rez, Bokor, based on the play with book and lyrics by Peter Horvath from an original concept by Tamas Pinter.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Andras Szalai; editor, Tibor Szatory; music, Tamas Milhaly; production designer, Laszlo Gardonyi; set designer, Katalin Juhasz; costume designer, Gyogy Csik. Reviewed on DVD, West Hollywood, Oct. 23, 2007. English dialogue, Hungarian song lyrics. Running time: 91 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Attila Kaszas, Monika Veres, Tamas Palcso, Robert Alfoldi, Zoltan Miller, Monika Hoffman, Tibor Szakacs.
  • Music By: