Abhishek’s review published on Letterboxd:
Set in Budapest during the final period of 2nd WW, "Fábri's The Fifth Seal" is totally a bleak illustration of the despairing existence of people, unmitigated absence of optimism and freedom in their lives in a highly oppressive political atmosphere. It deals with several metaphysical themes, actually it's like a trial of one's righteousness and ideology in critical times like war and that drives the viewers to think about what they would do in parallel circumstances.
Fábri's film sets its premise in quite unusual and diverting way by throwing a speculative question towards the characters and viewers like that if people had to choose, whether one would like to be reborn as a cruel autocrat (who does not believe in his immorality or wrongdoing) or a poor slave abused and dehumanised by the society( but he's quite satisfied that he's not done anything wrong.) Yeah, the answer seems pretty straight, but as the film progresses it compels you to think in a different way. Throughout runtime, director tried to make remarks about that topic from various perspective and also advised that one shouldn't dismiss the uncertainties of life.
Not so popular outside Fábri's home country but I should say that it's an essential film, carries the same type of morality play we got to see in "The Ascent" but in a different way. As the film moves forward, every viewer's own perception keeps going to change about the lead characters, according to their conscientiously-driven reactions.
Another thing to talk about is the cinematography, this faded approach kinda conveys a resemblance to the distressing lives of people during war-time...Liked the surrealist treatment given by the director and that holds a significance even at the very end of this gloomy film.
Afterall the film's ending makes you feel that one who talks about always moral conscience, can do something shocking even in terms of him, but at the same time it carries a message that greater purpose and goodness can be done from it which makes the decision an honest stand. As I said earlier, this film is more of a character study of the highest kind, strengthens the sense of obscurity in making a judgement in perilous times and Fábri did that with clarity.