The great Hungarian filmmaker Jancsó Miklós (or Miklós Jancsó, as he is known in the West) died peacefully in his sleep on January 31, 2014. Mehelli Modi, who has released excellent DVD editions of some of his films on Second Run in the U.K. (and has more recently brought out a Blu-Ray of his remarkable 1974 Electra, My Love), emailed me a couple of weeks later, asking, on behalf of Jancsó’s sons Nyika and David, if I could write something to be read at his memorial service on February 22. Here is what I sent back. — J.R.
It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that I regard Jancsó Miklós as one of the great lost continents of world cinema, especially outside Hungary — and largely, I suspect, because Hungarian history, which forms a major part of his oeuvre, is another lost continent from the vantage point of the West. With the possible exception of Sergei Eisenstein, I suspect that Jancsó remains the supreme example of a film artist who views history as a multilayered and passionate form of pageantry, something to be sung and danced, by the camera as well as by the actors, and, speaking more figuratively, by the audience.… Read more »