RED PSALM [Feature]

Hungary (MIFF 1975 , Miklós Jancsó Retrospective)
Director: Miklós Jancsó

Agricultural labourers and peasants in Hungary have gone on strike sometime during the 1890's. They are opposed, with increasing violence, by the military. The labourers, who are fighting for their rights for the first time, spend their time singing and dancing while they await the outcome of their protest. The steward of the estate attempts to bribe them, and shows them richly laid tables and highly stacked sacks of wheat. At the same time, the police move in around them. At a signal by the bailiff, the wheat is set on fire, to teach the peasants a lesson; but the fire turns into a stake on which the bailiff is burnt. Soldiers arrive, and a young cadet is handed a pistol and ordered to open fire. He refuses and is shot, but a wounded girl kisses him and he revives. The workers try to enlist the support of the soldiers in the common cause against oppression, but the landowners intervene. Count Majlath appeals to mutual national interest in a patronizing speech, and one of the workers replies from the revolutionary manifesto. Then a priest attempts to drive out the spirit of rebellion with exorcizing prayers, but he is driven away with whips, and the church is set on fire.

Unexpectedly, the tension breaks down and the people dance around a maypole. The soldiers mingle with the crowd, then suddenly the trumpets ring out. The soldiers surround the peasants and open fire, but one woman, the angel of revenge, remains outside the circle.

Red Psalm continues the themes
and stylization from Miklds Jancsd's
earlier films, Confrontation and
Agnus Dei.

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