Erdély, Miklós. Version. Film, 1981
The film is based on a documentary novel written by Gyula Krúdy in 1931. Krúdy used the infamous story of the Jewish blood libel in Tiszaeszlár, a village in northern Hungary. A young girl, Eszter Solymosi, disappeared in the summer of 1882, and the Jewish inhabitants of the village were accused of having killed her as part of a ritual murder. The writer got material for his book by collecting information from the recollections of the lawyer who represented the Jews who had been accused and from his own memories, rooted in oral tradition, as he grew up near the scene of the events.
The basic framework of the film is the coaching given by an officer in the gendarmerie office to Móric Scharf, who gives false testimony the text of which is identical to the testimony given at the trial. We see versions of the same sequence, each fo which has shifted a little bit in comparison to the previous one as the coaching continues. The filmmaker’s radical gesture is to give the viewer an opportunity to see how the protagonist's mental process develops until it reaches the final state, in which he is able to see the crime. Erdély casted László Rajk, the son of an executed communist leader, for the part of gendarmerie officer Recsky (Rajk’s father was executed by his own communist comrades following a show trial during the period of communist terror in Hungary).
Another key component in Erdély’s film is the way in which he makes the actual materials used in the creation of the film visible. For example, the mental images are shot from the editing table, so they are grainy and obscure comparing to the other scenes. The end credits section is a kind of withdrawal of the provocative images, since the actors stop playing their parts and present themselves as real people, “as civilians,” and doing so somehow negate the fabricated story (and the images of the ritual murder) presented earlier. Upon completion in 1981, the film was banned
Produced by BBS, 1981. Banned until 1989.
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- Beöthy, Balázs