The Round-Up

The Round-Up ★★★★

There is no central protagonists here only ideas. As soon as we begin to follow a character, an event or circumstance occurs that allows us to change course and follow another. In this sense, the audience is representative to an omniscient eye that has full movement and awareness looking into the processes and procedures of this specific detention camp. What we find is again no protagonists but instead the idea of a manipulative and tyrannical authority coercing their captives to turn against one another for their own benefit. It might be the ultimate portrait of betrayal and Miklós Jancsó achieves this in such easy subtle strides.

On initial glance, Jancsó's non-narrative film (because its devoid of a concrete plot) takes some time to get use to but once the viewer allows themselves to be merely spectators rather than participants in the film they can bare witness to a near documentary account of the cruel and overreaching tendency of the authoritative hand. This is what is key importance to this film is the overall meaning and themes that it presents not in its characters or proceedings. These men are overpowered and unmatched in a controlling society that can even drive them against each other in hopes of a personal gain that will never materialize. The thought of reward is all the ruling forces need to extract the information that they seek. Essentially it is similar to watching caged animals while the master holds the food behind a barrier.

The Round-Up is a restrained study of manipulative oppression and well crafted by the Hungarian auteur Miklós Jancsó.

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