MIRAGE – a Hungarian Eastern … wait: Western

Isaach De Bankolé in MIRAGE (image: Stockholms Filmfestival)

MIRAGE … now there’s a film at Stockholms Filmfestival which I found highly amusing at first (so Austria/Hungary) and which I had serious problems with near the end. See – it’s done like one of those Italian westerns, it has a little sci-fi (slavery is back), and it uses the Puszta, that endless Hungarian prairie in the best of ways. But it turns my expectations literally upside down in the last frame. It’s hard to stick with it during the last third. But it sticks in one’s mind. Watch it, if you can. The EU – so most of you, dear readers – co-financed it.

(stockholmfilmfestival.se) Based on a novel by writer Alexander Tar, »Mirage« follows a secretive stone-faced traveller (played by Claire Denis’ and Jim Jarmusch’s darling Isaach De Bankolé), wandering the windswept Hungarian plains. Cinephiles will feel instantaneously at home as the film echoes native auteurs such as Béla Tarr and Miklós Janscó, with its long wordless sequences. With its familiar iconography, the film could easily be called a “Lángos-western” – where the arrival of a stranger without a past portends a familiar genre trope, skillfully interwoven with fascist overtones reminding of modern day Hungary. In the aftermath of their democratic abolishment, »Mirage« surreally meditates on questions concerning modern totalitarianism and xenophobia. By borrowing and developing ideas and figures from the western genre, Hajdu makes an acute comment on the return of fascism in Europe today; a comment as valid in the context of Hungary as that of Sweden.

About Elisabeth Schabus 477 Articles
I see, I like, I write ... mostly about cinema and actors, but also about politics or economy. In English, auf Deutsch, på svenska. This ORF trained news journalist (TV, radio), who has also worked in corporate publishing for international brands and written/edited tons of magazines, has become a blogger out of passion.

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