Hungarian Roulette

Hey Mickey 

Miklós Jancsó is touring the UK talking about his work, with his son Nyika translating for him. As the great man explained, by way of translation, when he was young he never learned English because everybody thought French was going to be the Universal Language. “So think yourselves lucky you’re not speaking French.”

Having been doing this for a while, Jancsó and son have developed a very nice tag-team comic timing, in which the pauses for translation accentuate the humour.

Introducing THE ROUND-UP:


“I hope you enjoy the film.”


“I would say, ‘Have fun,’ but maybe it’s not that funny.”

Rounding Up Donkeys

Jancsó is in the odd, schizoid position of being fairly well-known to young audiences in his native Hungary for the slightly vulgar, frank-speaking comedies he’s been making recently, which have enjoyed good box office at home but remain largely unseen elsewhere, while in Britain and America, at least, he is known almost exclusively for his ’60s and ’70s films. So there are two Miklós Janscós.


“I am a very old man.”


“And all I can do now is laugh at the world.”


“And I suggest you do the same.”

(More soon.)

9 Responses to “Hungarian Roulette”

  1. Do his new sex comedies have long takes with incredibly intricate tracking shots?

  2. It wasn’t absolutely clear, but the implication seemed to be that they don’t.

    At any rate, they are mainly interior, with small groups of characters, which makes for a marked contrast with the 60s-70s classics already.

    They may be very good, but the impression given was that they’re very modest and not too serious on any level.

  3. That first photo, of him smoking a pipe. Hm. It just gave me an idea for a character in a story I’ve been tossing around in my head. A rather interesting smug/sad expression.

  4. His face has changed a little as he’s advanced into his eighties, but there’s a steely glint of absolute ALERTNESS to his eyes that’s very intense and impressive. And he’s nearly always smiling!

  5. Wostry Ferenc Says:

    Those aren’t sex comedies, but very intellectual, surreal excersises with humor, full of sociological, political context. Not genre movies at all. Some of them are brilliant, some of them weak.

  6. Thanks for the correction. I was going by Jansco’s own description, but this was in translation, and he didn’t give much information. I wish his more recent work was easier to see here.

  7. Wostry Ferenc Says:

    Here you can buy the first (and IMHO best) one, NEKEM LÁPÁST ADOTT KEZEMBE AZ ÚR PESTEN (THE GOOD LORD HAS PUT A LAMP IN MY HAND IN BUDAPEST). It has english subs, apparently.

    I have no idea if they deliver to foreign countries, you better ask them here

  8. Wostry Ferenc Says:

    In fact you can buy all 6 films in a box set – holy crap, even I did not know that, and the page says all of them has english subs

  9. Wow, thanks! If I can’t get them delivered, I have friends who live in Hungary for part of the year, so they certainly could.

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