Friday, 16 August 2013

Father (Apa) [1966]

In Apa, only his second feature, Szabo painted a haunting, heartbreaking and deeply personal portrayal of loss and coming-of-age, and an ingeniously mounted depiction of father-son relationship, against the turbulent backdrop of post-WWII Hungary. The breezy and freewheeling narrative, along with the delectable sense of humour, made this a powerful work. Tako (Dani Erdelyi) is a young kid whose father died during the war, and lives with his mother in a cramped apartment. He doesn’t have many memories of his dad, but his fecund imagination creates a heroic image of him as a brave partisan fighter against the Nazis and a savior of the poor and sick. Thus, while he concocts and chronicles this fantasy life of his father’s valour, dare-devilry and humanitarian spirit to his friends and teachers, it is also visually created, as if in Tako’s mind, for the viewers. Eventually the kid grows up into a young man (Andras Balint), and his relationship with a fragile Jewish refugee girl (Kati Solyom), who suffered devastation during the Holocaust, makes him place his own loss in perspective. And with that newfound awareness he goes about, for the first time in his life, trying to find out who his father really was, and what he realizes is incredibly profound in its simplicity and banality – that his dad was neither a hero nor a villain, just a regular guy. The juxtaposition of the larger-than-life fantasies with the humbling personal reconciliation, and the ensuing maturity as a result, along with alternate imbuing of humour and pathos, and not to forget, some sharp political observations, made this a remarkable and eloquent film. The energetic camera-work and the authentic performances, too, deserve appreciation.

Director: Istvan Szabo
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Political Drama
Language: Hungarian
Country: Hungary


Sam Juliano said...

Powerful, moving film, and you do a great job here Shubhajit!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. Another underrated gem from Hungary, in my opinion.