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12 August 1945, 11 AM. Two mysterious strangers dressed in black appear at the railway station of a Hungarian village. In the shadow of Russian occupation, the people of the village are preparing for the wedding of the son of the clerk, but the bride's former fiance returns from captivity. Within a few hours, everything changes. Secrets, sins, reckoning, love, betrayal, confrontation. Written by
1945 (2017) is a Hungarian movie co-written and directed by Ferenc Török. It takes place in a remote rural village in Hungary, just after the German surrender.
Two orthodox Jewish men arrive by train in the village. Iván Angelus plays the father, and Marcell Nagy portrays his son. The men bring two large mysterious trunks with them. They have hired a cart to bring the trunks into town. They slowly walk behind the cart, without saying a word.
The Town Clerk, Szentes István, played by Péter Rudolf, appears to function as the Mayor. He is particularly ill at ease when the Jewish men arrive. However, every single person in town is worried. Why are the Jews here? Do they represent Jewish people given up to the Nazis, who have managed to survive the Holocaust? Will they want their confiscated property back?
Little by little, the town's terrible secrets emerge, and the story is not a pretty one. Everyone is guilty of complicity. Some are guilty of actively helping the Nazis find and deport Jews. The others did nothing to protect Jews. There's not a single hero among them. What happens next represents the plot of the movie, and it is powerful.
Another reviewer suggested that the movie resembles "3:10 to Yuma," or "Shane." I don't see it in either case. To me, the film is closest to "Bad Day in Black Rock." It may seem impossible that a film shot in rural Hungary shares a parallel story with a film shot in the Arizona desert. However, both films portray the days just after World War II, when hidden guilty secrets are revealed by the presence of a stranger (or strangers). Eventually, these secrets will fade away, but during those days they could still be brought to the surface. This is an incredibly powerful Holocaust film, although the Holocaust had ended when the movie began.
Of the 12 excellent movies we saw at the Rochester International Jewish Film Festival, I thought this one was the best. This movie has an excellent IMDb rating of 7.7, but I think it's even better than that. If there's one movie of the 12 about which I would say, "Absolutely don't miss it," this would be the one.
We saw 1945 at the excellent Little Theatre. As I stated above, it was part of the extraordinary Rochester International Jewish Film Festival. The RIJFF is over for 2017. However, some movies will be shown again in the next 12 months. If you live in Upstate New York, and you love movies, the RIJFF is where you should be in mid-July. Watch for it in 2018.
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