Arguably the most gifted Hungarian filmmaker of his generation, István Szőts has been compared by critics to Ford, Dovzhenko and Renoir. People of the Mountains is the story of a woodcutter and his family who live high in mountains of Transylvania. Forced out of their home, they are enticed into working for the very company that ejected them, only for their lives to begin to unravel one tragic misfortune after another. Beginning as a lyrical portrait of a long-vanished way of life, the story gives way to the catastrophic impact of industrialisation on the community and the tragedies which follow in its wake.
Shot almost entirely on location in harsh mountain conditions, using mostly non-professional actors, with a devotion to realism and the details of daily life, this was a groundbreaking film and an indictment of the prevailing conditions. Szőts’ auspicious debut was, however, refused a distribution license by Nazi minister Joseph Goebbels and condemned as 'Communist propaganda'.
In spite of this, the film went on to win a major prize at the 1942 Venice Film Festival and was later cited as a model for the Italian neorealist movement of the 1940s, praised by Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini among others. A powerful, elemental vision suffused with poetic lyricism and a romantic anti-capitalist zeal, People of the Mountains is a jewel of Hungarian cinema of the period.
Second Run present People of the Mountains from a brand new 2K digital restoration of the film created from original nitrate image and sound negatives by the Hungarian National Digital Archive and Film Institute, under the supervision of the renowned cinematographer Sándor Sára (Szindbád, Father).
• Presented from a high-definition digital transfer of the brand new 2K restoration of the film created from the original nitrate negatives by the Hungarian Digital Archive and Film Institute, supervised by renowned cinematographer Sándor Sára.
• 16-page booklet featuring a new essay by author and Hungarian cinema specialist John Cunningham.
• New and improved English subtitle translation.
• Available for the first time on home video in the English-speaking world.
Directed by István Szőts
Screenplay - József Nyírő, István Szőts
based on the collection of stories ‘Kopjafák’ by József Nyírő
Director of Photography - Ferenc Fekete
Editors - Zoltán Kerényi, Miály Morell
Set Design / Art director - Imre Sőrés
Music - Ferenc Farkas
Production Manager - Pál Siklóssy
Alice Szellay - Anna Csutak
János Görbe - Gergö (Gergely) Csutak
Péterke Ferency - Little Gergö
József Bihari – Mártin Üdö
Lajos Gárday – Ádám Ülkei
Oszkár Borovszky - Intézö
1942 Venice Film Festival / Winner: Biennale Award
Voted by critics in the Top 4 Hungarian films of all time
"This brilliant, beautiful film was consigned to a twilight existence... One of the most beautiful films in the history of Hungarian filmmaking... an undoubted classic"
The Cinema of Central Europe
"The film is beautiful, unique and inimitable" Il Messaggero
"One of the most memorable Hungarian films of all time" KinoKultura
"Magnificently photographed mountain scenery and a strong social theme" Film Reference.com
"It’s hard to believe that this film was made right in the middle of World War II in Europe, until one realizes that the Hungarians were on the side of the Axis powers and thus spared immediate destruction. People on the Mountains is a miraculous film, a classic of European cinema, and one that deserves to be rediscovered by a much wider audience"
E.B. Neslowe, The E List
"One of the most remarkable Hungarian films of the first part of the twentieth century... a powerful and visually stunning film, very different from the run-of-the-mill offerings from the Hungaian film industry at that time" Catherine Fowler, Representing the Rural: Space, Place, and Identity in Films about the Land, 2006
"And just when you think you’ve got a handle on all the important movies from all the important movements, something like People of the Mountains turns up...
a bold and powerful piece of work" Movie Habit