Bureaucratically blocked in its homeland for a decade, Bacsó's anti-Stalinist comedy confronts the historical trauma of the post-war purges and show trials with the iconoclastic wit of true absurdism - tracking the farcical travails of a good, simple communist dyke-keeper as he's unwittingly targeted to become a key prosecution witness in the rigged case against a former comrade. The treacherous currents of party-line politics prove beyond the poor man's comprehension - he knows only those of the Danube - as he is buffeted, under sinisterly ludicrous secret police supervision, through a bewildering switchback of imprisonment and (invariably inappropriate) rehabilitation. As agit-prop clichés become running gags, the horrific ironies emerge from a series of classic comic set pieces: the well-meaning creation of a Socialist Ghost Train in the people's amusement park; the ceremonial passing off of a lemon as the first 'Hungarian orange'; the eventual unscripted débâcle of the trial. Exorcism through echoing laughter: brilliant.
Cast and crew