Szabadság, szerelem (Children of Glory) (2006)

 

 

Director:     Krisztina Goda.

Starring:     Kata Dobó (Falk Viki), Iván Fenyö (Szabó Karcsi), Sándor Csányi (Vámos Tibi), Károly Gesztesi (Telki edző), Ildikó Bánsági (Karcsi anyja), Tamás Jordán (Karcsi nagyapja), Viktória Szávai (Hanák Eszter), Zsolt Huszár (Gál Jancsi), Tamás Keresztes (Ács Imi), Péter Haumann (Feri bácsi), Dániel Gábori (Józsika), Róbert Marton (Kardos Márton (Compó), Kornél Simon (Abonyi Gyula (Báró), Krisztián Kolovratnik (Fazekas Sándor, Frank), Antal Czapkó (Prokop).

a growing number of Hungarians are demanding independence

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.  Curse words. 

Moscow 1956.  There is a lot of cheering for the Hungarian and Soviet water polo teams.  The Hungarians feel the referees were not being fair and no penalties for fouls were called on the other team.  When the other team fouls the Hungarian leader, a foul is called on the Hungarian.  The Hungarian holds the ball and the referee is blowing and blowing his whistle.  The water polo fellow, Szabo Karcsi, asks if he wants the ball and then throws it right into the head of the referee.  Now fights break out in the water. 

The Hungarians let their anger out in the locker room.  One man says:  "The great Soviet team can't lose to the Hungarians."  Another man chimes in that the Russians can win only by cheating.  Three Russian players come over and say that the Hungarians don't even deserve to be defeated by them.  Since the Russians don't speak Hungarian, a Hungarian acts as spokesmen and shakes the hands of the three Russians while making fun of them at the same time.  This catches the Russians off guard and they are a bit bewildered at what is happening.  They start to leave when in Russian the hand shaker says:  "Screw Khrushchev too . . . you poofs."  The Russian leader understands this, turns around and hits the Hungarian hand shaker in the face.  Then everyone starts fighting. 

On the train team member Petak sews up his valuables in a water polo ball.  Others hide their religious icons at the bottom of their suitcases.  A young man comes to the polo players and asks if he can hide by mixing in with them?  Sure.  The customs inspectors come aboard.  One asks why is the water polo ball so heavy?  The team members says because the ball is a Soviet ball and their balls are bigger than those of the Hungarians.  One of the inspectors asks about the young man who looks like he's sleeping and the players say he's just been sleeping like a bear. 

Budapest, Hungary.  Two young women are waiting at the train station to welcome the team home.  Szabo Karcsi shakes hands with the thin woman and tells her his name.  The woman says she knows who Karcsi is.  A man comes up to Karcsi and the woman and asks him to go with him.  "The minister would like to meet you.  He's a big fan of yours."  Karcsi asks if this could be put off until tomorrow, but the messenger just says:  "Bring your bag."  Karcsi is a bit concerned about what this is all about, but he goes peacefully with the messenger. 

The car pulls up in front of a fancy building and Karcsi says that this isn't the ministry.  The messenger says:  "That's right."  They take him into the basement where he sees a woman being tortured.  Karcsi senses he's in real trouble.  He now sees a fellow being tortured. 

The minister welcomes Karcsi, but Karcsi is in survival mode now.  The bureaucrat tells Karcsi to call him Uncle Feri.  He says that Karcsi is an outstanding athlete with a bright future ahead of him.  But in Moscow, Karcsi hit a Soviet player.  Karcsi also threw a ball at the referee.  The minister says:  "You should never strike a Soviet comrade.  Clear? And you never insult our Soviet friends by saying, 'Screw Khrushchev' ".  After all, the star athlete has much to lose, like his little brother, Jozsi. 

A car drops off Karcsi at his apartment building.  He is greeted by his mother and Jozsi, who says that his friend Tibi said that the AVO took him in.  (The State Protection Agency, the secret police, was referred to as ÁVH.)  Karcsi dismisses the claim, but mother says that Tibi said he was picked up by the Secret Police.  Again Karcsi denies it. 

At night Jozsi asks his big brother if the authorities are going to put him in an orphanage?  Karcsi asks why does he asks that question?  Because the father of a girl at school was taken away and she was sent to an orphanage.  Big brother says that nothing is going to happen to Jozsi. 

Karcsi's grandfather fell asleep in his chair by the radio.  The Voice of Free Hungary is heard over the radio.  Grandfather figures that the AVO took his grandson in to tell him to let the Russians win.  Karcsi says no, they just said not to hit the Russians.  Grandfather says:  "Karcsi.  Sometimes you must hit back, even if you're not supposed to."  Over the radio comes the news:  "The strike continues in the city of Poznan." 

The next day over loudspeakers the AVO blares out with:  "The news about strikes in Poland is completely fabricated." 

At a meeting the official propaganda of the Soviet-dominated Hungary is preached.  A student comes up, grabs the microphone and says:  "I'm here for the Independent Student Alliance of Szeged."  The man shouts that the authorities are lying to them.  The speakers is grabbed and pulled away from the microphone.  The young fellow shouts:  "Show solidarity with Poland!"  A spokesman for the authorities says they can't let confusion reign.  A young woman named Viki Falk stands on a chair and shouts:  "Let him speak!"  The students in the auditorium clap for this statement.  She now shouts:  "We have the right to hear the student from Szeged."  Some members of theaudience run up to the stage and take the microphone.  The spokesman shouts:  "Let's hear the Szeged representative."  (Szeged is the third largest city of Hungary, and the largest city and regional center of the Southern Great Plain.  The University of Szeged is one of the most distinguished universities in Hungary.)

The representative from Szeged now says that the authorities are lying about Poland.  The Poles are fighting for their freedom.  "Form your own revolutionary committee and pledge solidarity with Poland."  There is a big applause from the audience. 

The water polo team practices in the pool.  Coach asks where's Tibi?  No one has seen Tibi since the railway station.  Tibi suddenly comes walking over to the coach with a black eye.  He won't say what happened.  Later with Karcsi, Tibi tells him that they beast the shit out of him.  They kicked him down three flights of stairs.  Karcsi stops him saying:  "They know everything.  What we talk about, our family, everything."  Karcsi also says he has to go visit with his friend Imi because the fellow has Karcswi's report card. 

In the auditorium, a speaker announces:  "We've just formed the Independent Students' Alliance."  They now demand free general elections and a new government headed by Comrade Imre Nagy.  (Nagy was an important Hungarian politician, who fell out of favor with the Soviets in 1955 and was sacked as Chairman of the Council of Ministers.)  They also want a new daily paper for the Alliance; a free radio; and the immediate firing of the Stalinist functionaries.  The secret police pull the plug on the audio system. 

Viki gets up and shouts that they can't silence the students.  "The Poles showed us how to be brave.  Let's go to Bem Square."  Karcsi is in the audience with Imi.  He asks Imi who is that woman?  That's Viki. 

A student shouts out:  "We want our national flag back."  The students start chanting:  "Russkies go home!  Russkies go home!"

Later Karcsi worries about the backlash that will come from the authorities.  Imi says the authorities will leaven them alone as long as they stick together.  Viki comes along and hands some pamphlets to Imi to distribute.  She sees Karcsi who tries to impress her with his talk of the Olympics, but Viki tells him:  "You're a coward who won't get involved."  Imi tells Karcsi to hand out some pamphlets to his team.  Viki asks:  "Why should he risk his privileges?  He's the pride and joy of the Commies."  Karcsi says something flippant and Viki goes back to work. 

Viki hands out pamphlets on the streets and tell people to meet at the Bem statue.  (Józef Zachariasz Bem 1794-1850, was a Polish general, an Ottoman Pasha and a national hero of Poland and Hungary.)

A poster goes up calling for a general strike.  A protest is held in the streets.  The participants shout:  "Rakosi in the river, Imre Nagy to power!"  Karcsi sees Viki in the demonstration and he goes over to talk with her.  She tells him:  "Go back and play water polo."   Tibi warns Karcsi that Viki could get them kicked off the water polo team.  Viki is now standing at the foot of the statue of Bem.  Karcsi moves up to the front and Tibi comes along.  Karcsi speaks with Viki and when the speaker says they will move to the parliament building, Karcsi carries the flag with him.  Tibi bet Karcsi that he would kiss Viki first, so he kisses her on the mouth.  She slaps him.  Karcsi tells his friend that he deserved that.  Viki now slaps Karcsi.  He asks why she did that and she responds:  "I don't known . . . yet."

In front of the parliament, the crowd wants the lit red star removed from the top of the building.  Grandfather brings Jozsi to the revolution.  Karcsi sees them and tells them that they should go.  But they want to see history being made.  Grandpa says:  "Stalin's statue has fallen."  Jozsi sees Vikki talking a lot to his brother, so he asks him:  "Is she your girlfriend?"  The light in the red star is extinguished.  But then, all the lights in Bem square go out.  People start burning their rolled-up newspapers and there is light again. 

Vikki goes with her radical friends to broadcast their demands.  When they get to the radio building, they find out that instead of letting them broadcast their demands, the secret police has arrested their delegation.  The people start chanting:  "Let our delegation go!"  Tear gas canisters are dropped into the street.  Someone shouts to take over the radio station.  Now water hoses are turned on the crowd.  Someone cuts up the water hose.  Now the people start changing anti-AVO statements.  A shot rings out and Imi goes down.  That shot is followed by other shots.

An ambulance drives up, but Karcsi recognizes one of the men as AVO.  He shouts out a warning to others.  Karcsi jumps on the AVO man as he tries to enter the building.  Other AVO men drop a box and out flows automatic weapons.  The demonstrators grab the weapons.  The huge AVO man is about to shoot Karcsi when another demonstrator shoots the policeman instead. 

The square has to be abandoned because of all the automatic weapons fire coming from the building.  Karcsi goes with Viki over to her apartment.  She says the authorities allowed the demonstration, but Karcsi reminds her that only silence is allowed here.  Viki says she knows how Imi's mother will feel. Her parents were killed by the AVO.  Viki is very discouraged.  She says that all she knows now is that she doesn't want to be alone.  Karcsi says she's not alone. 

A bit later Imre Nagy gets on the radio saying that he has been appointed Prime Minister.   Viki is happy about this.  Now they hear and feel a rumbling in the apartment.  They go out onto the small balcony to look to see what's happening.  A tank is rolling done the street.  A young man throws a Molotov cocktail onto the tank and it explodes in fire.  The young man pays with his life as he is shot down by the machine gunner in the tank. 

A friend of Viki rolls up with a truck and tells her they have to go now.  "There's fighting all over the city."  She tells Karcsi to come along with them, but Karcsi tells her he has training. He says he has "a dream too and it's not getting shot to pieces."  Viki leaves. 

Over the radio the news is:  "The government requested the intervention of Soviet troops stationed in Hungary."  Soviet tanks roll in and Soviet soldiers fight house to house.  Imre Nagy says to the Hungarians to put down their weapons, but Radio Free Europe says they shouldn't trust Nagy.  Viki arrives and a girlfriend asks her how is it going with the polo player?  She says:  "Nothing."

Karcsi arrives at training and the guys start ribbing him about Viki and he.  Karcsi straightens them out when he tells them that:  "Imi is dead."  "They were killing people everywhere."  The coach comes out and Karcsi walks over to him.  He scolds Karcsi for being so late, but he adds that he better not hear about any trouble, or he will have to throw Karcsi off the team.  A team member comes over to Karcsi and says that his actions are going to ruin everything for all the guys.  The two men wrestle with each other, but are separated by the coach and other team members.  Someone says they won't be able to go to the Olympics.  Karcsi says:  "With bodies all over the streets, who cares about the Olympics?"  A couple of fellows say they care. 

A little later Karcsi decides to leave training.  The coach says if Karcsi leaves, he can never get back on the team.  Karcsi leaves anyway. 

Viki takes part in a surrounding of a police station.  The commander says that if the rebels will sign a statement that they forced the police, they will brings arms and grenades to the rebs.  The arms are loaded onto a truck and off they go.  Along the way Viki sees Karcsi and shouts out his name, but she can't get his attention.  The truck is shot at by Soviet troops, but the rebels manage to get away. 

Karcsi comes to the rebel headquarters.  He asks a young woman where can he find Viki?  The woman says that he must be the infamous polo player?  Yes.  She introduces herself:  Eszter Hanak.  Viki comes in and sees Karcsi.  They stare at each other for a moment and then smile.  Viki asks if the team let Karcsi leave?  "I didn't ask permission."  She tells him not to do this for her sake.  He says:  "My grandfather says that sometimes we must hit back.  This is one of those times." 

Karcsi wanst to visit his parents and Viki goes with him.  They barely escape with their lives on the streets as Soviet troops shoot at them.  They rush into an apartment building.  They kiss. 

Back at home, mother is shocked to see Karcsi and a friend holding automatic weapons.  Karcsi introduces Viki Falk to mother.  Jozsi tells his mother that Karcsi is going to marry the young woman. Mom tells Jozsi to hang up the coats.  Joszsi finds a pistol in Viki's coat.  He takes it out and points it at the mirror.  Mom calls for him and Jozsi hides the gun under the cabinets. 

Mom insists that the couple stay home at night.   There's a curfew and a lot of shooting still going on. 

Alone Viki tells Karcsi that she had sex with a guard who told her he could save her parents.  He lied.  They kiss.  They have sex.  (Brief nudity.)

In the morning Vikki gets up early.  Mother is up and she mentions that what she is doing is good especially since she has no one to lose.  Vikki gets her point.  When she leaves she takes both automatic weapons with her.  Outside everyone seems to be headed to the parliament building hoping to hear something from Imre Nagy. 

Tibi sees Karcsi and tells him that if he stops now, all we be forgotten, because the authorities need their champion Karcsi.  He goes on to say that the authorities threatened to throw him off the team and the only thing that he really has is water polo.  Karcsi asks him if he joined with the authorities?  Yes.  This makes Karcsi mad and disappointed.  He leaves to go find Viki, despite Tibi's protestation. 

Viki is riding on a Russian tank. Her friend Eszter Hanák calls out to her.  Viki jumps off the tank and goes over to speak with Eszter.  Karcsi jumps up on the tank looking for Viki.  He sees her and runs to catch up with her.  Just then Soviet troops start firing into the crowd.  The Russians on the tank just pretended to be with the people for now they too are firing into the crowd.  A lot of Polish people are being killed in the streets below. A group from the AVO kill a number of Poles and the Poles, including Karcsi and Viki, chase them into a dead end area.  A priest tries to stop the shootings, but one of the AVO agents shoots the priest.  Now the agents are gunned down, but Viki is hit by a bullet too.  Karcsi finishes off the AVO fellow who shot Viki.  Viki is wounded in the upper arm. 

Jozsi shows his friend the pistol he got out of Viki's jacket pocket.  The boys start working with the rebels.  When Karcsi sees them he gets mad and tells them that they are not freedom fighters, they are kids.  They are going to drop the kids back at home, but some men say they want to use the truck as part of a blockade to force a Russian tank down an alley way where it can be destroyed.  Karcsi puts the boy in a safer place and tells them to stay there or else.  Do the boys obey?  No.  Emboldened by having a pistol with them they run to the action.  The Russian tank has been set afire with Molotov cocktails.  The boys are thrilled to see the Russian tank afire.  There are a couple of the Russian tank crew underneath the tank and they fire at the kids.  Jozsi's friend goes down.  Viki and some others fire at the tank men and kill them.  Karcsi picks up his little brother and now the boy says he wants to go home. 

The message over the radio is that an agreement has been reach on the immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops from Budapest.  The AVO will be disbanded immediately and replaced by a new police force.  The Hungarians think they have won and many are in a festive mood.  The coach comes out to tell the team that in two days they leave for the Olympics.  The guys are ecstatic. 

At home Karcsi has to tell his mother the truth.  She is so excited that he will be going to the Olympics, but Karcsi tells her that he left the team.  Mom is so disappointed and shocked.  So is Jozsi.  He asks his brother if he is not a water polo player than what is he?  Karcsi gets upsets and goes outside with his automatic weapon.  Viki follows after Karcsi. 

In bed Viki says that Karcsi should go to the Olympics.  She explains to him why the Olympic games are important:  "It's the first Olympics for a free Hungary.  Let the world see what we can do."  So Karcsi agrees to play water polo. 

The Russians are leaving Budapest.  Feeling save, Viki now says it's time for Karcsi to go.  She gives him rosary beads that once belonged to her mother and he gives her his lucky watch.  They kiss goodbye and off goes Karcsi.  The team accepts him back and so does the coach.  There are a few  who want Karcsi to have to work to get back on the team. 

Viki talks with her friend Eszter Hanák, who says she is going to have a baby.  The two women hug each other over the news.

At night the guys are sleeping on the bus, but they are awakened by the rumblings of Russian tanks.  Karcsi says:  "Jesus, they're coming back."  He adds:  "They've screwed us."  He tries to get off the bus, but the bus driver won't open the door. Tibi comes over and knocks Karcsi out.  The streets of Budapest are relatively quiet early in the morning.  All of a sudden Russian tanks open fire on the residents of Budapest. The buildings start collapsing.

At Budapest headquarters the news is that the leader Kadar made a deal with Khrushchev and overthrew Imre Nagy and his government.  Some of the men turn in their weapons and leave the headquarters.  Jancsi, Eszter's boyfriend, tells the men that they must stay and fight.  Eszter tells her boyfriend:  "Jancsi, this is madness. Tell them to save their lives."  Viki, however, wants to fight on.  She says the Americans are coming to save them. 

The polo team is at the airport boarding a flight.  Karcsi still has the desire to escape and return to Budapest. 

The polo players watch a newsreel that says the Hungarian patriots have been fighting street to street.  The Soviets have been in Budapest for two weeks now.  Tibi says that the Americans have offered him a job.  Yeah, they have offered all of them jobs.

Viki works in a make-shift emergency room.  One patriot comes in with his right leg blown off.  Viki tells one of the men to go get an ambulance or this man will die.  An ambulance arrives and everyone evacuates the room.  Russian soldiers try to stop the evacuation.  The patriots fight back, but now a tank rolls up.  The tanks clobbers the building.  Eszter runs inside to get a man out, but the fires in the building reach some stored weapons and the whole first floor is wiped out. 

Viki sees someone on fire coming out of the building.  She rushes over to the person and throws a blanket over the person.  Viki turns the person over to see the face and it turns out to be Eszter. 

"This is the free Hungarian Radio's last broadcast to the world.  The Soviet army is trying to crush us.  People of the world, help." 

Viki returns to headquarters and finds Jancsi there.  He tells her that they have to go find Eszter.  Viki tells has to tell him that Eszter is dead.  Jancsi runs out of the room. 

A fellow player scolds Tibi for drinking before practice, but Tibi says he doesn't care.  "Next month I'll be playing for the Nevada Seals."  Everyone says they are leaving except Karcsi who says he's staying in Budapest.  The coach comes in and the guys tell him that they don't care about the Olympics anymore.  Coach has everyone sit down.  He says:  "Everything is lost a home and that's why now it's up to you to show the world that Hungary can win.  The Hungarians cannot be totally defeated."  The men can do anything they want after the Olympics, but right now they have to win the Olympics for Hungary and for everyone back home.  "They deserve it." 

Hungary starts winning games and now they are in the semi-final.  They will face the Soviet team.  

Viki and a wound man have to evacuate an apartment because the Soviets are rushing into the building.   They go up to the roof and hide.  Luckily a soldier just looks around quickly, doesn't see the two on the roof and leaves.

Viki walks down the street and is captured. 

The game against the Russkies starts.  Hungary scores the first goal.  Hungary blocks a Russian goal.  Hungary scores again. 

Viki is in a prison uniform.  Uncle Feri will be her interrogator.  He tells her they know a mutual friend:  Karcsi.  Now he tells her to write down the name of everyone who gave them weapons, or gave them food or fought by her side. 

Hungary scores a third goal.  The Soviets miss their goal throw.  Their next goal attempt is also blocked.  Hungary scores a fourth goal.  The Russians now start fighting the Hungarian players.  One of the Hungarians receives a really bad cut right next to one of his eyes. 

Uncle Feri brings Viki a lunch made by his own wife.  And he says he is going to give back to Viki the lucky watch given to her by Karsci.  But first she must give him some names.  Viki writes down the names of Stalin, Khrushchev, Kadar and Uncle Feri.  Uncle Feri slaps her across the face.  They move Viki elsewhere.  Walking down past the cells to her death the women tell her:  "God bless you."  Then they sing for Viki. Viki still has the lucky watch.

The Hungarians win the gold at the Olympics and they get to sing their national anthem.  Karsci holds Viki's rosary that her mother gave her. 

 

Lots of action in this film that is about a love relationship between the champion star of the Hungarian men's water polo team and a young lady working for Hungarian independence from the Soviets set against the backdrop of the Hungarian Revolution.  These two people seem to be polar opposites and yet they keep coming together.  But can their relationship last through actual fighting against the Soviet troops?  Will they both physically survive the fighting?  And what tricks do the Soviets have up their sleeves?  Iván Fenyö (Szabó Karcsi) is very good as the overly cocky champion water polo player.   He is going to have to turn down his cockiness a lot, if he is going to be attractive to Viki.  Kata Dobó (as Viki Falk) also does a good job. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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