An Orthodox Jewish man and his son arrive in a Hungarian village at the end of WWII, upsetting the inhabitants who must confront the recent horrors they’ve experienced, perpetrated, or tolerated.
When two black clad men arrive at a country railway station, a classic western set up appears to be unfolding. But it’s 1945 in Soviet-occupied Hungary in the immediate aftermath of World War II, and by their appearance the men are Orthodox Jews. As the men make their way to town and word of their arrival spreads, there’s a growing panic among some of the more prominent townsfolk – especially town clerk, whose son’s wedding is later that day.
This difficult time in Hungary is rarely dealt with in cinema, and certainly not with as much clarity, economy and nuance as Ferenc Török displays here. A rare subject too, the grave and sobering issue of how the Gentile population of Nazi-occupied countries behaved towards Jewish neighbours, and how they have, or have not, come to terms with a life based on guilt and betrayal. With its monochrome splendour and striking soundtrack, morally compromised townspeople and its tick-tock narrative towards an unknown conclusion, we’re reminded of Fred Zinnemann’s taut and masterful High Noon.
1945 is a tense, chilling, beautifully nuanced take on a little-known slice of history based on the acclaimed short story Homecoming by Gábor T. Szántó.
A sombre, accomplished skilled drama. – The Guardian ★★★
Marvellously directed and acted. – RTE.ie ★★★★
Török’s engaging, imperfect feature has important and timely things to say about historical guilt and remembrance. – The Irish Times ★★★
Hungary, 2017 | Language: Hungarian | 91 minutes | Cert: CLUB
Director: Ferenc Török
Cast: Péter Rudolf, Bence Tasnádi, Tamás Szabó Kimmel, Dóra Sztarenki