Sorstalanság (Fateless) (2005)
Director: Lajos Koltai.
Starring: Marcell Nagy (György Köves), Béla Dóra (Smoker), Bálint Péntek (Pretty boy), Áron Dimény (Bandi Citrom), Péter Fancsikai (Older Kollmann boy), Zsolt Dér (Rozi), András M. Kecskés (Finn), Dani Szabó (Moskovich), Tibor Mertz (Fodor), Péter Vida (Lénárt), Endre Harkányi (Old Kollmann), Márton Brezina (Younger Kollmann boy), Zoltán Bukovszki (Zoli), Gábor Nyiri (Hedge), Jenö Nagy (Jenö).
teenage Hungarian boy is sent to Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Zeitz concentration camps
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
1944 Budapest, Hungary. György Köves's father has been called up for forced labor. György stays home from school in order to be with his father on his last full day in Budapest. His father sells his jewelry shop to his friend Mr. Sütõ. Along with him on the sale is György's step-mother. György likes one of the Jewish girls, Annamária, in his apartment building. He has to quit school to work as a brick layer in a Hungarian firm.
One morning György is traveling by bus to his job. A Hungarian policeman stops the bus and tells everyone with a yellow star on their clothes to get off the bus. György gets off the bus. After it leaves, he sees a small group of his young co-workers that have been previously plucked from various buses. The Hungarian cop stops more buses and grabs more of the young workers. The young fellows are taken to a barracks. Their foreman shows up at the barracks to yell at the policeman for depriving him of his workers. But the cop has his orders and will not release the boys.
After awhile, the policeman announces that he has been told his orders -- the boy's will just go through an I.D. check. So they line up outside along with some men who also wear yellow stars. They are marched along the road. Nearing their temporary destination they are pushed and shoved to the stables where they are packed in like sardines. György starts to realize that he can be killed anywhere, any time.
One by one the Jews have to file into the police office where they have to empty all the contents of their pockets onto the table. The fellows are put on a train and are transported to Auschwitz Birkenau. At their destination the men and women are separated. The boys are all told by the Jewish assistants to say they are sixteen so they can get on a work crew. The smallest of the group of boys, Moskovish, is not selected for a work crew (and is probably sent directly to the gas chamber).
The work crews are switched to Buchenwald. Their next stop is the concentration camp Zeitz, which is a small, provincial camp without the gas chambers of the larger concentration camps. György realizes that in Zeitz he is now surrounded by strangers. A talkative Hungarian named Bandi Citrom speaks with György for a long time and gets György slapped across the face by one of the guards. But Bandi proves to be invaluable to György because Bandi tells him how to survive in the camps, constantly encourages the young man and watches over him.
Three escapees who were caught are hanged in front of the entire group of inmates. György is starting to give up hope. Bandi yells at him that he is not keeping himself clean and is getting filthy and scabby. But poor György seems too depressed at the moment to pay much attention to him. György falls in formation and Bandi learns that his protégée's knee is extremely swollen. They take him to the make-shift hospital where the medical assistant cuts and then cleans his swollen knee. György gets to stay in the so-called hospital until he gets stronger. To get more food, he pretends that the dead boy next to him is still alive and takes two rations, one for him and one for the dead boy. György finds maggots crawling his his wound.
György continues to decline and is placed among other men who also look like living corpses. They are taken to what looks like a gas chamber, but instead of gas, water pours out of the shower heads. This gets a lot of the near-dead awake. György is saved. He is placed in a better care center and manages to get stronger.
The news comes over the loud speaker that all SS men are to evacuate camp. The sound of fighting can be heard in the distance. The Americans arrive. An American army sergeant takes a liking to György and advises him to get out of Hungary and work his way over to the United States where he would be given an opportunity to improve his position in life. György appreciates the attention from the sergeant, but insists on going home to Budapest.
The Hungarian group of former inmates travels together. They stop at Dresden, Germany and see how bad off the Germans are in this destroyed city. The leader of the group is very happy to see the Germans suffering. The group travels on by train, but at one of the stops, György just walks away from the group. He heads to the home of his buddy Bandi Citrom. He finds the place, but his relatives tell him that Bandi is not home. Discouraged, György continues his journey back home.
György goes to see his mother, but a strange person answers the door and then slams it shut in his face. He tries next door and the neighbors recognize him. They gladly invite him in. They want to hear about all the bad things that happened to him in the concentration camps. György finds out that his father died at Mauthausen in Austria, but that his mother is very much alive.
György does not seem to be connecting with anyone in Budapest. He sees the the girl he once liked, but the spark is just not there. He tells her "I died once" and "I can't be angry any more."
On his way to his mother's apartment he stops at the local square to regain some energy. He stops to think about the good aspects of the concentration camps. György feels alienated from his Christian neighbors, many of whom turned their backs on the Jews, and from his fellow Jews who avoided going to the concentration camps and just want to forget the war and the camps. But as a victim of the camps, György can't forget his experiences. And he does not want to forget them. What he now misses in Budapest is that feeling of camaraderie that he once had with many of his fellow concentration camp inmates.
Good movie. It follows a fourteen-year old boy from his middle-class life in Budapest to the concentration camps and to the start of his new life after his liberation. But a lot of the worst aspects of the concentration camps are missed because György is placed in a labor camp after brief stays in worse camps. One does not see the gas chambers and the ovens. The biggest complaint is that the middle of the movie seemed to drag. There were a lot of scenes that did not really go anywhere and made the middle part of the movie seem too long. The movie was a little strange and different because György actually speaks of the positive side of the experience (namely the camaraderie among the fellow inmates in the labor camp). Obviously, not everyone had the same experiences with the camps.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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