Miklós Janscó takes the romance out of Russia's Revolutionary struggle in this simultaneously beautiful and brutal look at the civil war following the Bolshevik coup of 1918. Set in a remote region of Central Russia in 1919, The Red and the White
follows the shifting balance of power around an abandoned monastery. The anti-Bolshevik White Army has embarked on a campaign to completely eradicate the area of Red Army soldiers, and scores of Hungarians, former Bolshevik prisoners thrust into battle, are caught in the middle. The graceful camerawork and lush, lovely landscape captured in stunning black-and-white widescreen stand in sharp contrast to the abrupt on-the-spot executions and sadistic cat-and-mouse games of the White Army, hiding behind a mask of politeness and civility as they line up their next row of victims. But Janscó's portrayal of the Bolsheviks, while decidedly more heroic, isn't much more sympathetic. The dreamlike poetry of Janscó's cinema and the surreal atmosphere of doom carries the film in place of a strong story or a central set of characters, but there is no mistaking his sympathies for the victims of the struggle--peasants and prisoners and civilians caught between collision of two armies, systematically stripped of their dignity and their lives as the battle rages around them like an evocation of hell on Earth. It's a brave stance for a Hungarian filmmaker working on Soviet soil in 1968 and it makes for a powerful film. --Sean Axmaker
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.