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Philippe Bourrinet

Un film hongrois : Les Agitateurs, 1971.Dans la lignée de "La Chinoise" de Godard?

Posted on February 18 2013 by left-disorder

Agitátorok – The Agitators –

Der Film Agitatoren

Les Agitateurs

Produced by a group of young people, including the director Dezsö Magyar, in the experimental Béla Balázs Studios in 1969, Agitátorok (1971) is a response to the 1968 student movements and the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia presented through a cinematic portrait of Hungary’s short-lived 1919 revolution. The film, using newsreels from 1919 edited with reenacted scenes from the Party debates, remained banned by Hungarian authorities for nineteen years. The script of the film was containing excerpts of Marx, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Tibor Szamuelly, Georg Lukacs, and Aliosha Karamazov by Dostoievski…

Agitátorok (1971), der von einer Gruppe junger Menschen um Regisseur Dezsö Magyar 1969 in den experimentellen Béla Balázs Studios produziert worden war, ist eine Antwort auf die Studentenbewegungen von 1968 und auf das sowjetische Eingreifen in der Tschechoslowakei, dargestellt in einem Filmporträt der kurzlebigen ungarischen Revolution von 1919. Der Film, der Wochenschaumaterial aus dem Jahre 1919 mit nachgestellten Szenen aus Parteidebatten kombiniert, wurde von den ungarischen Behörden 19 Jahre lang verboten.

Bódy Gábor (Botos) - Ervin Sinkó

Szentjóby Tamás (Szentesi) - József Lengyel

Cserhalmi György (Vitatkozó)-Leniny Boys

Földes László (Hobo) (Bőrkabátos)-Lenin Boys

Bertalan László (Marton) - György Lukács

Kozák András (színész)

Zala Márk (színész)-Aljosa Karamazov(Dosztojevkij hero)

The Agitators is one of the most inspiring lost Hungarian classics. Made for the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Soviet Republic declared by Béla Kun during the collapse of Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy in 1919 the film represents a complex overview on revolutionary practise and the psychology of terror and messianic fanaticism. Most of the collaborators were young student filmmakers and actors with few of them already known - under the aegis of BBS (Studio Béla Balázs), the Hungarian workshop for documentary and experimental filmmaking. Magyar and Bódy creates a complex and multi-layered narrative by using diverse literary sources, actual news footage and cross-references to current events. The main source of inspiration is Ervin Sinkó's novel « Optimists » and the memoirs of József Lengyel and the wife of the late Hungarian Bolshevik terrorist Tibor Samuely. Marxists philosopher Georg Lukacs's theoretical account on the subject also used for references in many cases. Although Magyar and Bódy could hardly knew the works of Godard deeply (and none of Glauber Rocha's) their work is very similar to Le petit soldat (1963), La Chinoise (1967) or Sympathy for the Devil (1968) in its way of deconstructing social reality. The film presents the theater of revolution through talking heads reflecting their own different ideas. The sets are anachronistic and studiously artificial. Though the film based on actual events all characters are fictional. The Agitators's other relatives in film history are Nikleshauser Fart (of Fassbinder) or Peter Watkins's La Commune. Magyar and Bódy uses direct references to the 60's like Rolling Stones tracks in the audio. Due to it's subversive approach the film was banned for a few (17) years and later it was forgotten. Most of the young talents became second-line stars in film industry with few exceptions. One of the actors, László Földes became a rock singer and was a central figure in 80's underground. Bódy remained a leading film theoretician and experimental filmmaker till his suicide in the early 80's. Magyar couldn't do other films in Hungary and left to the USA where he reinvented his career in television. The Agitators is definitely one of the greatest achievements of new Hungarian cinema and still needs to be revised and put to its proper place in the history of Hungarian cinema.

Hungarian speaking Hungarian film, black-and-white, with optional English subtitle, 68 minutes, made in 1967, released in 1971; directed by: Magyar Dezső (Dezső Magyar); written by: Magyar Dezső, Bódy Gábor (Gábor Bódy)

Bertalan László (László Bertalan) = Marton elvtárs (Comrade Marton)

Bódy Gábor (Gábor Bódy) = Botos

Cserhalmi György (György Cserhalmi) = vitatkozó (debating man)

Dobai Péter (Péter Dobai) = képviselő (politician)

Földes László (László Földes) = Földes, a bõrkabátos (Földes)

Kézdi György (György Kézdi) = szerzetes (monk)

Kozák András (András Kozák) = színész (actor)

Oszter Sándor (Sándor Oszter) = újságíró (journalist)

Szentjóby Tamás (Tamás Szentjóby) = Szentesi

Zala Márk, Márkus László néven (Márk Zala as László Márkus) = színész (an other actor)

Pintér György (George Pintér) = ellenforradalmár (counter-revolutionary)

– Comrades, you will have to do with my greeting you in the name of the comrades returned from Russia. But if we are concerned with the formation of the intellectual group, we must remember: we are the party of revolutionary communists, and revolution is a cruel and bloody reality. You should take this literally if you want to join the party. Moreover, the party’s duty is to become both the high command and the army of the revolution. Therefore party discipline here is not an empty word, but it means that party members have to submit themselves to the will and goals of the party, in everything – in their words and in their actions. Whoever is not with us, is naturally against us. But those are much more against us, who are with us half-heartedly. Such people should stay away. That’s all I wanted to say and with this I declare the intellectual group of the Hungarian Communist Party founded.

– True. But it is important how you train them. I’m only saying wait with the articles on natural sciences.

– Because that’s what I wrote. I know, I’m a mechanical materialist. There’s no God – that’s what you have to explain to the workers. And what’s that there is: material, capital, exploitation, communism.

– All right, agreed.

– That’s what workers are interested in, not in dialectics.

– I believe it.

– Surely, dialectics play an important role.

– Did you come for the agitator course?

– Yes, we’d like to find out about it.

– You too?

– Yes.

– Do you know what an agitator does?

– That’s what we’d like to know exactly.

– If you finish these courses you will, if ordered, go to the front, to the villages, to agitate. If you only want to listen, or argue, go now. I need the list of the applicants in ten minutes.

– Often even the most accurately conceived measures will fly off like a hot-air balloon in which anyone can sit bringing any old rubbish. And since they don’t know where they are heading to, they can even change direction.

– That’s still better than when they change it consciously.

– Yes. Or it’s not sure if that’s better. I think the worst is that the workers themselves don’t understand: even the most obvious things, are all yours. The factory is yours, the school is yours. What does that mean for you? Go down to the street and ask the first ten passers-by. It would be good to know their answers.

– Yesterday the dancing masters of the inner city came in to get socialized.

– They aren’t tight?

– They fit perfectly.

– Our measures succeeded too easily. There was too little resistance. As if those in whose name they had been made, wouldn’t have noticed them, either. The catastrophe, in the same time, is that we are almost innocent in our victory.

– It was us who demanded proletarian dictatorship. We couldn’t say it’s too early.

– For that matter, it’s not true. The situation and the masses were ripe enough for our measures. We had to act, and now we must act accordingly. We have to bring the notions of their own ethics to them, from the outside. We have to explain to them the paradox that collective property will be truly theirs not through dissipation, but through work. That only struggle can abolish struggle and only terror can create the world in which love will become reality.

– Are you coming?

– I am.

– What you’ve been talking about?

– Not all the workers understand our measures, so there are some who could turn them against us.

– We’ll sort out those who are against us.

– Hey, why are all these social democrats still around here? Is this what proletarian dictatorship is like?

– Maybe. You see, that’s what I’m saying. We used to have our ready answers, and now reality is asking different questions. Only the tried, watertight answers are truly ours.

– Did the masses really understand our goals? Did we really consider their level of maturity? Have we really consider their long term and concrete interests? Didn’t we effect measures administratively that could have evolved spontaneously? Did we ensure that our common goals were really common?

– Come on.

– Are you sick?

– My legs have been crippled for a long time, now they had to be cut of.

– You don’ want to help as, do you?

– I have been eating the count’s bread all my life.

– The count was eating yours. We want everyone to eat his own.

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