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Directed by Istvan Szabo
Produced in 1966
Main Language - Hungarian with English subtitles
A poignant and powerful cinematic ode in which a boy concocts a heroic picture of his father killed in the war. The parallels with Szabo's own life are striking, says Michael Brooke.
The Hungarian New Wave must be the least known of the great 1960s film revolutions, thanks to inadequate distribution rather than lack of merit. A case in point: István Szabó's superb second feature - Father, a major prizewinner at the time, but unfairly forgotten in the wake of the director's post-Mephisto international success.
Shot and edited with all the effervescent brio of early Truffaut, it's essentially a more politicised Hungarian take on Billy Liar. Young Bence Takó has few genuine memories of his surgeon father following the latter's unexpected death, but is more than happy to reinvent him as a heroic political activist, partisan fighter and even proto-Schindler. He clings to this myth into adulthood, not because he truly believes it, but because he hopes that even this fictionalised glory will somehow rub off on him. Although he denies that his film is explicitly autobiographical, Szabó is the same age, his own father died young, and his recreation of Hungary from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s is peppered with imaginative touches clearly drawn from vivid experience.
Michael Brooke on 21st June 2011
Author of 135 reviews
In Istvan Szabo's Father, a young Hungarian boy concocts a fantasy ideal of his father who has been killed in the Second World War. In the child’s imagination, the figure of the father attains mythical qualities. Only years later, does the boy realise that his father may not have been the
heroic figure he imagined him to be...
Combining a poetic nostalgia with stark images of war, Szabó’s powerful cinematic ode relates historical events through the prism of personal experience producing a film of extraordinary intimacy and power.
From the Oscar-winning director of Mephisto, Colonel Redl and Being Julia.
Publisher: Second Run
Length: 85 mins
Cat No: SECONDRUN059
Format: DVD B&W
- Interview with director István Szabó.