My Way Home
A film by Miklós Jancsó
1965 / Hungary / 98 minutes/ b&w
16th Feb 2014; 5.45pm
Perks Mini Theater
My Way Home is set in Hungary in 1945, in the final days of WWII. The Red Army is advancing and the German army retreating across the country, which is crowded with a confusion of human traffic heading west. In this situation, a 17 year-old Hungarian boy is captured and imprisoned at a remote barracks. Released in error, he is arrested again and strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Russian soldier whose charge he is put into as they tend the cows for his unit's milk supply. His attempts to return home then form the crux of this wonderfully lyrical film, which displays all of Jancsó's consistent themes: the psychological presence of landscape, the randomness of violence and the arbitrary nature of power.
Jancsó said that My Way Home was 'autobiographical in feeling, if not in fact', and it is this sense of remembered life that gives his film a uniquely poetic, dreamlike quality in which people appear and disappear on the endless Hungarian plains and the boys work, eat and play together as the war encroaches on their mutual under-standing. It is their relationship that is atthe heart of the film. Though it is wordless, (they share no common spoken language), it was described in Time Out as 'one of the most moving and clear-sighted analyses of male sensibilities and friendship in all cinema'.
Jancsó fashioned a highly individual cinema within the confines of a state operated film industry, and with My Way Home we see him discovering his unique visual style, with his lengthy, elegant and supremely choreographed takes through which human life ebbs and flows. It was to reach mastery the following year with The Round-Up (an eagerly awaited DVD release coming in the next few months from Second Run) and The Red and the White(1967).
One of the world's most acclaimed directors, Miklós Jancsó, now in his eighties, is still working in Hungary, his career having undergone a recent resurgence in popularity. However, it is with My Way Home that he first revealed what an enormous talent he had, consistently marrying themes and style in films of astonishing virtuosity.
Born at Vác, a village near Budapest, on September 27 1921, Miklós Jancsó studied Law and Ethnography in Romania, took his degree in 1944 and was briefly a soldier and a prisoner of war. After the liberation, he returned to Budapest and enrolled in the Academy of Drama and Film Arts.His first feature film, The Bells Have Gone to Rome (1958), was a stolid Second World War drama indistinguishable from other Hungarian films of the time. Cantata (1962) was little better, but in 1964 he began to attract favourable notice with My Way Home, which deals with a young Hungarian soldier caught between the German retreat and the Soviet advance in the last stages of the war. He made about 81 films which include many short films and TV documentaries during his long career as film director.Jancsó passed away at the ripe age of 92 on 31st January 2014.