Elégia (1965.)

I think of myself as a prose guy. Give me clean, thought provoking narration over anything else and I’ll be happy. Experimental stuff can go fuck itself as far as I’m concerned. Before you make a judgment against me for being prick without a reason, failing to grasp the essence of Art that lies within the framework of an experiment, you might want to know that aforementioned sentences are completely false. True, I still think of myself as a prose guy, and I still prefer what I said I do but that doesn’t mean that I have no love for poetry left. It’s just that, when I compare the two (and I do compare them a lot, practically doing that for a living), I always find that world of prose, world of simple linear narration, is less inhabited by pompous idiots who think that The Point of anything that wants to call itself an Art is something along the lines of incomprehensible, self-referent, recursive puzzle box which should be unraveled only on acid or after seven centuries of careful, meditative, considerations. “Poetry” is full of such people, and the fact that this is not the blog about literature shouldn’t be of any particular meaning. What goes for literature, goes for filmmaking as well.bscap0002

Having said that, I should say that lately I find poetry (and similar practices like experimental filmmaking) to be more interesting or at least more appealing to me than it was before. I don’t want to jump into some big theoretical framework about how the logic of narration has come to an end with post-modern fixation on recombination nor would I like to say anything that resembles aforementioned pompous thought on status of Art. It’s just that classical narration over time became too tedious. Maybe it has something to do with the movies I watch which tend to concern themselves with genre aesthetic which then leads to chunks of movie-time being spent on nothing more productive than trope-building and relation-making. Or maybe I just didn’t have any luck to see something remarkably fresh or interesting on more than one level. Poetry (i.e. experiment) tends to be, whenever it’s not solipsistic, more open to exploration. This of course comes from the terms of production where poetry, being much less constrained by the ideology of Studio and the logic of profit, can be free of any boundaries that lie outside of an authors mind.bscap0003

                Elégia by Zoltán Huszárik is one example of a beautiful visual poetry that manages to “say” more things in twenty minutes than many movies can do in more than ninety. Like many experiment it has no “story”. “Story” is constructed within a framework of loosely connected images of horses juxtaposed with a variety of shots depicting people, buildings, open spaces or more horses. Together with an unnerving musical score and direct intervention into the photography itself, Elégia manages to invoke a feeling of foreboding destiny that lurks just above the horizon of any existence. The main “logic” of the Huszárik’s project relies on the power of free association. Though one may think that Elégia is sometimes too direct in its approach or its metaphors (and one isn’t wrong in thinking this) one should note that Huszárik didn’t cripple his construction with the bondages of prescript meaning. Whether one thinks of Elégia as a presentation of human existence or the history of Hungary under the communism (wide shots of open, empty terrain together which bleeds both with history and harsh existence tend to lead the photoplay in this direction) the movie itself doesn’t cheer for any option. Of course, there are meanings that are implausible (one might say anything about Elégia except that it’s cheerful) but things are far from presrcripted. Huszárik doesn’t just edit pictures in a meaningful manner. He is well aware of the power of composition and he uses this knowledge to direct the viewer playing both with his emotions and the desired (or implied) effect of the juxtapositions. In this he is neither pretentious nor solipsistic which more than anything else opens up his movie and invites us to collaborate with him on a creation of meaning. There are more important (in a historical sense) examples of experimental cinema out there but this one managed to do what many of them failed. It successfully blended the experiment with ease of access, playfulness of an “egocentric” child-artist with the respect for his audience. It’s a blend that is rare to find and just for that one should take a look. So that he doesn’t forget that it can, actually, be done.

Directed by: Zoltán Huszárik

Balázs Béla Studio


You can watch it on YouTube:



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