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Hungary, 1968 (MIFF 1975, Miklós Jancsó Retrospective)

Director: Miklós Jancsó

In The Controntation, Jancsd again deals with social and political problems of Hungarian history and revolution. The film is set in 1947, and the characters are the students in the people's colleges. These institutions have been set up to assist the studies of young people who would never have attended university in the days before the Communist take-over. They are enthusiastic and vigorous, and intent on changing the world. A group of students from a people's college starts out to propagandize and debate with students at a neighbouring catholic school. Near a reservoir, they meet police cars. They stop the cars, throw the policemen into the water and jump in with them. Then they dance the kolo, a popular partisan dance, celebrating their common interests with the policemen. The officer in charge had himself been a student at the people's college not long ago.

The students break into the catholic school, but their challenge fails: not one of the pupils will answer their questions. The leader of the revolutionary students, Laci, tries to conciliate the Catholics by singing and dancing. The police officer brings in a group of folk dancers from the village, and they improvise a party in the school's courtyard. Laci makes friends with a Jewish pupil in the church school, Andras, whose parents died in a fascist concentration camp.

But the police then act independently and arrest six of the catholic students, on charges of engaging in seditious acts, Laci is shocked that the police should undermine his attempts to win over the students, and he decides to resign his leadership at the people's college. At a meeting called to discuss the issue, more impatient students denounce Laci as a petty bourgeois, who is not sufficiently resolute in difficult situations. They take over the leadership and decide upon an open attack on the pupils of the church school. They will now rely on revolutionary violence rather than conciliation. The clerical teachers are called upon to defrock themselves, and books now considered reactionary are carried from the school library.

This new organisation is interrupted by the arrival of delegates from the central board of the people's college. They expel those who advocated violence, and the small group of people's collegians leave the school with the problems of revolutionary democracy still unresolved.

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