The action of the film takes place in the years after the collapse of the 1848 Revolution against the Hapsburgs. Its anti-heroes are a group of impoverished Hungarian peasants who, after defeat, continued their isolated guerilla warfare. They became legendary characters: for a century, songs, poems, folk-tales spoke of the tough, enduring character of these men, and the rough, coarse justice of their leader, Sandor Rozsa, a kind of Robin Hood of the Great Plain. The film concerns the round-up of these insurgents by the Austrian army, and it traces the course of events step by step. One after the other, the brigands give in, betray one another, turn against friends, until in the end, they walk blindly into the last trap.
Not content with merely telling a story, the film observes history by creating a style to match and release real inner dimensions. This is a Kafkaesque no-man's land: stylised, yet very real. It is stunning visually, and the dynamics of violence are harnessed to the tragedy which is secretly maturing under the blazing heat of summer.
British Film Critic's Prize for Best Foreign Film; Prize of the Hungarian Film Critics.