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ELEKTREIA

Hungary, 1974 (MIFF 1975, Miklós Jancsó Retrospective)

Director: Miklós Jancsó

Elektreia is based on a play by Laszlo Gyurko that has been playing continuously in Budapest for the past five years. It is adapted from the Greek original, and Jancsd has freely changed the adaptation. His film opens on strange riders, the guards of the country of Aegisthos. They guard the frontiers, which are closed to aliens. A Feast of Justice is being prepared to commemorate the slaying of Agamemnon by Aegisthos fifteen years ago. Electra, the daughter of Agamemnon, vigilant and incorruptible, remains as a constant threat to Aegisthos. She is threatened by the king and his courtier, and refuses to listen to her sister, Chrisothemis, who accepted the new regime, married and bore children.

Electra waits for the arrival of her brother, Orestes, whose task it is to kill the king. Rumours circulate about his death; she is shown a dead man and told it is her brother, but she knows it is not. Then, it appears that he is not interested in revenge, only in drinking, playing games and love-making. As the Feast of Justice is celebrated, Aegisthos sits in judgement on Electra and marries her off to a dwarf. Unexpectedly, a group of strangers arrives and announces that Orestes is, indeed, dead. Electra stabs the messenger, and her life is declared forfeit. But the messenger revives and throws off his disguise: he is Orestes. The people rise against Aegisthos and he is executed. A red helicopter lands on the plain and carries Electra and Orestes away. As it lifts off, Electra tells the story of the Fire Bird, which died every night and arose the next morning in an even more beautiful form.

Through Elektreia, Jancsd has further refined his distinctive camera technique, and the entire picture has been filmed in eight shots, which run to an average length of between ten and twelve and a half minutes.

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