The Fifth Seal

The Fifth Seal

Yeah, I'm thinking it's one of those movies, you know? One of those criminally underwatched ones that at the same time could be in the running for one of the best films ever created, those movies which you could be considered fortunate to have found once or twice in your entire life, if it all, at least before the proliferation of the internet. If not one of the best movies then, it's one that you certainly won't be the same person after finishing it if you've really engaged with it.

Hungarian cinema seems to always have a trick or two (or rather an understandably much bleaker view of the world than more Western cinema would even dare at the worst of times) up its sleeve when I think I've seen everything. But then when I consider how my second favorite film of all time is Hungarian, Béla Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies, then I'm surprised they don't fill up entire favorites section as something about the Hungarian ethos and ambiance of their films fit my own disposition like a glove when I'm up for it, and not hiding out in one form of escapism of another. But even then as the best reality-dodger will tell you, the more you try to escape the more inevitably you come back to yourself. To put it crudely: their cinema I feel has a more direct connection to the raw, primal nervous center of the human race, something that we've long buried in so-called civilization, and I think their multi-faceted history of long-standing hostile paganism to the West's Christianity and a fascinating, unrecognizable language play no small part. It's my own fault then for not seeing more Hungarian films, and not the world's. Why should a person expect the world to understand anyway, or even desire it? Like Stendhal once put it, he only wrote books for the lucky few.

This will be in poor taste to say too, but I'll say it: Schindler's List who? This is obviously not about the same thing exactly, but generally it is. Though THAT film never really asks the truly hard questions, it doesn't even consider them. Ask yourself this, even if it was not Spielberg's intention, does not making a blockbuster about the Holocaust, replete with Hollywood-isms, not cheapen it in some way? Not even a little? Considering it in this way, it seems an insult now to even mention Spielberg and the Hungarian director Zoltán Fábri in the same thought.

Unfortunately as I must close everything out in an unsobering way as usual this film does actually serve as fairly decent counterpoint to Bergman's The Seventh Seal, though obviously they must be watched somewhat out of chronological order in this impromptu Apocalypse of John cinematic-universe.

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