We may have been among the first viewers of ‘The butcher, the whore and the one-eyed man‘ (‘A hentes, a kurva és a félszemü’ is the original title) at its projection in the first half of October at the Haifa International Film Festival. The film was still marked as in ‘post-production’ on IMDB, so no reviews or too detailed information were available.I have seen no previous work of director   and I know too little about the Hungarian cinema nowadays, so it was a good opportunity to see new faces and compare the approach of the Hungarian film makers with the one of the neighboring Romania or Czech Republic ones, with whom I am more familiar. I was not disappointed.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5247768/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5247768/

 

The story is set in the decade following WWI. While the whole Europe was living the post-war trauma, the situation was much harder in the countries that had lost the war: Germany, Austria, Hungary. A whole world had crumbled and many people were left with the scars of war not only in their flesh but also in their souls. Many women were obliged to sell their bodies, men to steal or kill to meet ends. For some the situation was post-apocalyptic, while other tried to retreat into the traditional ways of living and surviving. On this background, in a remote and poor corner of the defeated Hungary, takes place the story of love and hate, broken promises and violence that engulfs the triangle of characters in the title. It may be based on a true story, but the naturalistic approach reminds the novels of Zola with their inevitable sliding in evil and deer endings.

 

(video source Film Fest Gent)

 

The black-and-white cinematography approach in this film belongs to the line open by in the more entertaining ‘The Artist’ and continued by other directors like more recently in ‘Frantz‘. They use the ‘old’ cinema approach to deal with the post WWI period when cinema did not yet get colors, but also to make artistic statements: homage to the film industry of the period and a filter of a reality of the war and post-war period that fits well from a stylistic point of view. After all, the middle and the end of the 1920s was the time of glory of the German expressionist film school. The result is spectacular here, there are a few shots of anthological beauty and expressiveness.  The names of the three actors are , , and . I do not remember having seen previous work of theirs, and all three are fine in their respective roles. This brutal story of love and deception does not fall behind similar films about the period with much more famous names on the generic.