The Round-up (Hungarian, 1965) –Rethinking History

round up

This film ‘Szegénylegények’ ,  the original Hungarian title, is the film by the notable Hungarian film maker of the 60s  Miklós Jancsó. The films traces not in fact the revolution itself with a heroic perspective, instead it concentrates on the post-revolution period. It drags the viewer’s attention to witness the aftermath of a revolution here, exemplified by the tortures of an innocent lot, in a secluded fort in the Hungarian plains, shrouded by sea of grasses. The film notifies the historical time dealt in the movie as the 1860s, not more than a decade and a half from the infamous Hungarian revolution of 1848, against the Habsburg monarchy that ruled the Austrian Empire, one of the most powerful houses of Europe.

Through the film Miklos doesn’t attempt to bring a bird-eyed view on the revolution. Instead he localizes his focus attempting to deal with a pinch of the post- revolution era, yet digging the chosen part deep enough. After crushing the revolution of 1848 against the Habsburg rule in Hungary, the army looks for the supporters of Lajos Kossuth’s, one of the key figures who lead the revolution. They start their weeding operations to identify the supporters who are among the prisoners. In particular they look for the men who belonged to the Sándor Rózsa’s guerilla band. Sandor was a highwayman who wandered the Hungarian plains. He could be dubbed as the Robin Hood of Hungarian plains and soon began to gather popularity among the locals. He joined with his company of 150 men the revolution, around October 1848. His vigour in strategies and guerrilla warfare made him a popular figure among the revolutionaries.


The film focuses precisely on the attempts of Hungarian army supported by the Austrian bosses to pick and punish the supporters of Kossuth and the fellow guerrillas of the Sandor’s band. They have a bunch of prisoners as captives in an isolated fort, where they use cunning trickeries and imply foxily the divide and rule strategies on the captives to identify the right men they are looking for, on whom they have no idea of. They need a bait to set the ball rolling and it is János Gajdar. He is identified as one of the guerrillas, and charged guilty of murdering an older woman. He is, however, offered a chance to save himself from the gallows, if he opts to be the army’s informer while still with the prisoners. The fear of death sends shiver down his spine. He sets out his search for the members of the band mixed up in the camp. His desperate attempts reveals his true skin to his fellow prisoners soon fix him in the eye of their anger storm. Eventually he gets killed one night.


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