A Hungarian Fairy Tale
Time Out saysThe fairytale in question is the legend of a giant bird that flies down to save Hungary, but Gazdag's film is less a reinvention of national myth than an attempt to get to the bottom of a typically communist paradox: the way that human impulses turn into inhuman pratices under the dead hand of bureaucracy. The bird turns up at the start in a TV cartoon; and reappears at the end to carry a little boy and his surrogate parents away from their troubles. In between, the film uses Mozart's Magic Flute to waft its way through the story of a young orphan searching for a father who was only ever a fictitious name on a birth certificate. Gazdag's approach has something in common with the 'magic realism' of Latin American novelists; he shoots in silvery black-and-white, and feels free to jump from social observation into areas of fantasy and absurdist humour. The result is undeniably distinctive, and the shifts in tone sometimes have a genuinely disconcerting punch; but basically, Gazdag is looking back nostalgically to earlier social fables like De Sica's Miracle in Milan than forward to the Hungary of the '90s.