Saturday, 15 August 2020

Red Psalm (Meg Ker a Nep) (1971)

Den røde salme

After a streak of good and great movies the List editors strike back with another strange movie.

“Red Psalm” is the second movie on the List by Hungarian director Miklos Jancso (after “The Red and the White”) and where the first was a bit alternative in the narrative structure, this this one is all out obscure. 

Well, actually it is not so difficult to see what is happening. The obscurity lies primarily in why this lasts 88 minutes instead of 10. 

A group of actors are dressed up as peasants and soldiers on a rural setting in Hungary, late 19th century. The peasants sing and dance about the communist revolution with the soldiers standing around. From time to time some peasant will hold a political speech in the line of “workers, unite and take over”. Everything is stylized. People are pretense killed or whipped, speeches (rather than talks) does not necessarily lead to a discussion and nothing follows any causal model. All this goes on for 88 minutes without showing us anything we have not seen in the course of the first 10 minutes.

There are very few elements to make this movie interesting. There is the involuntary comedic element that you constantly get the feeling that they dubbed the pictures with lines from a different movie, so at odds are the sentences with the scenes unfolding. This did trigger a smile from time to time, but, sadly, not enough to make it truly amusing.

Another element is that a few times over the course of the movie some of the girls are naked. They are pretty girls, but the interesting thing here is that I have to ask myself “why?”. It is so baffling why these girls are going naked that again it is almost funny.

That is about it. It was insanely difficult for me to maintain a minimum of attention to what was happening on the screen. Chopping it up in small pieces did not help much. 5 minutes into each watch I found my attention wandering elsewhere. Luckily, I did not miss anything. This just goes on and on and on without any apparent change.

Some, according to Wikipedia, consider this Jancso’s best movie. If that truly is the case I hope this one is the last of his on the List.

Only recommended for masochists and fans of communist avantgarde musicals.


  1. I hated this too; it was so enamored with having a ton of movement in front of the camera and with the camera itself that I decried Jancso for wanting to be a director instead of just a choreographer. This isn't a film; it's an interpretive dance that just happened to be put to celluloid.

    1. I agree, and I, personally, do not care much for dancing in movies in the first place. Without the dancing there really in not much left.

  2. Actually, "communist avant-garde musical" sounds like a kick in the butt! Your description of the movie, though, makes it sound like something I will hate and may skip.

    Both my relatives are out of the hospital! I'm so glad.

    1. That is great news about your relatives. How are they feeling?
      I think you can safely skip this one. It does, though give you that unique experience, but so does Covid-19...