Isn’t it fascinating how naïve some of us can be? We think the past will never catch up, karma doesn’t exist, and being greedy is the only way to possess something, as through honesty we can’t really get that much from this life. In certain instances, all these might be a sad reality. But when the times come to pay the bills, those bills will have nothing to do with electricity or gas or water… The price that needs to be paid for doing something terribly wrong in the past will be much higher than what any money can pay off. Because there’s two things which are extremely priceless – human dignity and his life, which is what “1945” is all about.
It’s Friday, August 12, 1945, 11 AM. The war with Japan is being waged with renewed strength. Soviet troops cross the Manchurian border. American planes drop a second atomic bomb on Japan. The port of Nagasaki is impacted. The Japanese government has ordered the eviction of all cities and continues to debate its options in the Council of Ministers. In the meantime, the people of a small village in Hungary are getting ready for their own storm that is about to tear down everything they have built their life on – taking advantage, stealing, dishonesty, betrayal and greed.
Two hours is left before the wedding. The mob boss-like town clerk Istvan (Peter Rudolf) is getting ready, same as the entire village for the big weeding of his eldest son (Bence Tasnadi). He, in the meantime, tries to please the Russian occupying troops to showcase the independence of his village; the two men wearing black, later we find out, are Orthodox Jews, Sámuel Hermann and his son (portrayed by Iván Angelusz and Marcell Nagy), who just arrived at the train station. They needed to say nothing but just walk from one end of the village to another in order to bring fear to the face of every single person that begin recognizing in their own selves the pain and guilt, which apparently was and will be their only companion till the rest of their lives.
Set in black-and-white, co-writer and director Ferenc Török tackles Hungary’s most difficult and painful time, WWII, but with dignity and the unique charm only WWII films could have. Right from the beginning, it sets the necessary tone, a slow-burning drama is filled with suspense when the viewer is left helpless to stare at what “1945” has to offer. As the story unfolds, you see how the villagers begin running away from their own guilt and actions, and one of them, takes advantage of war and the poor people who had to leave their places in order to escape death.
Pretty much only the two men in black are innocent, while the rest are preparing for the worst. And they better be. The most mind-blowing fact about this film is that you do not hear even a single shot but the lives will begin to ruin and even fade away. And it is all because of their cruelty, when the time was right, they failed to hold it back.
In conclusion, it’s true that every film has a lesson to teach. Every image has a compelling story to share. Every life has its own value to bring. “1945” is a deeply moving piece with an impact that will last longer than you can expect. The reflection of an incompetent society, insatiability, misdeed and selfishness; that’s why it make sense to end the review quoting Margaret Atwood – “When you’re young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. You’re your own speeding car. You think you can get rid of things, and people too—leave them behind. You don’t yet know about the habit they have, of coming back.”