WhenHun­gary­madea splash

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - MICHAEL DWYER

CHIL­DREN OF GLORY/ SZABADSÁG, SZ­ERELEM Di­rected by Krisztina Goda. Star­ring Iván Fenyö, Kata Dobó, Sán­dor Csány, Károly Gestesy 12A cert, Cineworld, Dublin, 120 min

THE vig­or­ous game of wa­ter polo that opens Chil­dren of Glory serves as a po­tent metaphor for the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Hun­gary and the Soviet Union in 1956. The set­ting is Moscow, where the ref­eree bla­tantly ig­nores the per­sis­tent fouls of the Soviet play­ers and al­lows them to win. The star Hun­gar­ian player, Karcsi (Iván Fenyö), re­sponds by aiming the ball at the ref­eree’s face.

Karsci is es­sen­tially apo­lit­i­cal, more in­ter­ested in sex and in pre­par­ing to rep­re­sent his coun­try at the im­mi­nent Olympic Games in Melbourne. Then, re­turn­ing home to Bu­dapest, he is re­buked by the se­cret po­lice for his ag­gres­sion in Moscow, and he falls for a feisty univer­sity stu­dent, Viki (Kata Dobó).

There are re­ports of un­rest and strikes in Poland, and Hun­gar­i­ans take to the streets in sol­i­dar­ity. Karsci chooses to ig­nore the ad­vice of his best friend, who dis­mis­sively refers to Viki as Joan of Arc and urges Karsci to con­cen­trate on his train­ing for the Olympics. From early on, we an­tic­i­pate that an­other, even more sym­bolic wa­ter polo game will fol­low in Melbourne.

Chil­dren of Glory sets the ex­pe­ri­ences of its fic­tional char­ac­ters against the tur­bu­lence of mass demon­stra­tions in Bu­dapest and the mount­ing ten­sions when the au­thor­i­ties re­spond by in­dis­crim­i­nately fir­ing into the crowds. As the death toll es­ca­lates and ide­al­ism fades, the peo­ple of Hun­gary won­der in vain when the out­side world will in­ter­vene.

Di­rec­tor Krisztina Goda proves adept at cap­tur­ing the tur­moil and panic on the streets of Bu­dapest, im­pres­sively stag­ing huge crowd scenes on con­vinc­ing sets and lo­ca­tions, and ac­com­pa­nied by a stir­ring score.

Her film is a heart­felt drama­ti­sa­tion of this mo­men­tous revo­lu­tion and its shat­tered hopes. The false dawn that fol­lowed is chill­ingly ex­pressed in a noc­tur­nal scene of Rus­sian tanks rolling to­wards the city.

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