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Home Vision Entertainment presents
Hukkle (2001)

"Days of sadness, life of sorrow, stars of sadness scare the morrow." 
- From a cheery wedding song in the film

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: July 20, 2005

Stars: Ferenc Bandi, Jozsefne Racz, Jozsef Farkas, Ferenk Nagy, Janosne Nagy, Agi Margitai, Eszter Onodi, Attila Kaszas
Director: Gyorgy Palfi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:18m:22s
Release Date: July 26, 2005
UPC: 037429206522
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-BB+ B-

DVD Review

The sinister that lurks just beneath the pastoral exterior is the theme of Hukkle, but we're awfully far afield here from David Lynch; in some respects, this is almost more an exercise in style than a fleshed-out feature film. The movie is almost entirely without dialogue, and has just a wisp of a structure; told indirectly and without much narrative drive, there's a dark tale buried here about some unseemly things that have happened in the Hungarian countryside, with some focus on the investigating officer trying to sort out the mess. Careful attention to the film will yield up more clues, but rather than searching for Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with the candlestick, the film encourages you to luxuriate in its almost fetishistic style—it's jammed with the sort of extreme close-ups that are characteristic of student film projects, so it's no surprise to learn, then, that this feature had its origins in writer/director György Pálfi's work in the academy.

The film's true fascination is with the mechanics of things, and the zoom lenses were given a good workout during this shoot. We look closely at animal parts, or at tiny insects flying and filling the whole screen, or at the gears of a sewing machine interlocking with one another; these shots take on an almost abstract quality, fascinating for their geometry and movement, and not because they're imparting information. All this means, then, that we're asked to look at this movie in quite a different way from most features; this isn't the place to turn if you're hungering for plot, certainly, and even if you're content to consider the images merely for their own sake, at close to an hour and a half, this can get a little wearying.

The title refers to the unifying motif of the picture: it's the Hungarian rendering of the sound of a hiccup, apparently, and an elderly farmer who can't shake them is the recurrent character, the seemingly oblivious witness to much of the world around him. It's an ambitious movie in a lot of ways, and a technically sophisticated one; and its look at the frequently unconsidered natural world, and the notion that we are merely one species among many, is refreshing. But after a while it's a bit like video wallpaper—very pretty, yes, but pretty over and over again in exactly the same way.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationoyes
Anamorphicnoyes


Image Transfer Review: The colors look rather dull, though this may well be due to the source material, and not to the transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Hungarianyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Hungarianyes


Audio Transfer Review: There's almost no dialogue in the picture, so the atmospheric soundtrack won't demand as much of your attention as the pictures. Still, it sounds fine and well balanced.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by György Pálfi and Gegely Pohárnok
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. accompanying essay by Andrew James Horton
Extras Review: The director and cinematographer provide a Hungarian-language commentary track, for which subtitles are provided; it's full of technical details and reminiscences from the shoot, especially about the dangers inherent in shooting such extreme close-ups of wild animals. You can see them finding their style in some pre-production footage (11m:42s), perfecting the tight shots and dollying camera that are characteristic of the feature. A look (26m:01s) at the making of the film emphasizes the difficulties in shooting in small-town Hungary, ranging from corralling animals to dealing with amateur actors. Brief production notes are excerpted from more extensive ones from the film's website; and the accompanying essay sheds some light on the film's travels on the festival circuit.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

A visually striking film that's a treat for the eyes, but the diligence and attention required to get the narrative to serve up its secrets may not be worth the effort.

 


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