A more sobre companion piece to Es war einmal in Deutschland…, Török Ferenc’s1945 offers a new perspective on the horrors of war.
Unforgivenby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
There’s something of the goulash western about Török Ferenc’s 1945. It begins with a small town shaken by the arrival of two Jews; the first to return after the war. But as the train rolls in and as these raven-like harbingers of doom make their way slowly towards the village, the town starts to implode. From the Town Clerk to the Priest, all Hungarians, it seems, have something to lose. Whether it’s the village store reappropriated with a swift stab of the pen and a fraudulent statement, the family linens and crockery given a new home, or the denunciations they were hoping to forget. And as the revelations fall, life in this unnamed and once peaceful town is turned upside down – a fragile one-sided marriage threatened by greed and infidelity torn apart when the groom finds out about his father’s reappropriations. Although there’s no such thing as a faithful marriage, it seems, in this self-serving backwater.
The Jewish men, however, despite appearing to silently observe all the cloak-and-dagger commotion of the Hungarian villagers, have no intention of reclaiming their goods. But have rather returned to the village to perform Kaddish for its now dead inhabitants, with a heartbreaking collection of belongings. With astonishing hypocrisy, the Town Clerk abruptly changes position, offering his condolences and support to the Jewish mourners. For now, the day of reckoning has been postponed.
12 years in the making Török Ferenc’s 1945 is a startlingly original take on the horrors of the Second World War. And with its final shot of smoke hanging in the air, it’s a poetic and respectful tribute to its victims.
1945 is now showing at the 67th Berlin Film Festival