Miklós Jancsó

Active - 1958 - 2004  |   Born - Sep 27, 1921   |   Died - Jan 31, 2014   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

A key figure in the development of the new Hungarian cinema, filmmaker Miklós Jancsó earned international recognition for his films Szegénylegények/The Round-Up (1965), Csillagosok Katonák/The Red and the White (1967), and Csend és Kiáltás/Silence and Cry (1968). These films best reflect Jancsó's tendency toward abstraction and contain a distinctive combination of revolutionary viewpoints and highly structured, formal cinematic style. Imagery is more important than dialogue, which is used sparingly to encourage audiences to contemplate Jancsó's underlying messages. The director tends to place actors in geometric patterns that mirror the landscapes around them.

Born in Vac, Hungary, Jancsó studied ethnography and art history while earning his law degree in 1944. He spent several years in Transylvania doing ethnographic research before enrolling in Budapest's Academy of Dramatic and Film Art, where he graduated in 1950. Jancsó began filming numerous newsreels and documentary shorts until 1958, when he made his feature debut with A Harangok Rómába Mentek/The Bells Have Gone to Rome (1958). The film is one of the few in Jancsó's repertoire that does not reflect his signature style. In 1963, he earned international acclaim for his medical drama Oldás és kötés/Cantata (1963).

Many of Jancsó's films examine the terrible aftermath of war. Although his first films offered sympathetic explorations of the human characters, his later works became increasingly concerned with the use of imagery for its own sake. Jancsó's landmark films of the '60s won many international awards and special recognition at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1972, he again earned international acclaim and the Best Director Award at Cannes for Red Psalm. Seven years later, Jancsó won a lifetime achievement award from the prestigious French film festival. He continued to make films throughout the rest of the century, earning particular acclaim for a number of increasingly enigmatic works, including Szeressuk Egymast Gyrekek...A Nagy Agyhalal/Let's Love One Another...The Great Brain Death (1996) and Nekem Lampast Adott Kezembe Az Ur Pesten/The Lord's Lantern in Budapest (1999).

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