Wednesday, 12 April 2017

WALKING WITH THE ENEMY

A bit of a mystery

Image result for "arrow cross" flag

This film Walking with the Enemy was originally scheduled to be released for showing in cinemas some four years ago, during 2013:


The film is set it in Budapest in 1944-45, concerning two separate personal stories, based upon those of two Hungarians, Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum, Jewish Resistance fighter, (renamed Elek Cohen in this film), and Admiral Miklos Horthy, Regent of Hungary. The film is a fairly lavish Hollywood production.

Delay and availability

Unaccountably, the film was not completed and released in 2013 as intended, nor on a second release date announced for 2014:


Instead, a sequence of re-edited trailers was released on line:


The film itself has been shown in a succession art houses in the United States and Canada. It has not been publicly shown elsewhere in the world, and no video was been released.

Still without explanation, a video edition has now been released in the United States:


There is no news yet of when this might be for sale in the rest of the world., nor of general cinema release anywhere.

I understand that specific changes have been made to the contentsover the last three years, but not what they might be.

I have not yet myself seen the video. It can now be bought from Amazon in the United States. I am in England: after three years' delay I can wait a little longer to see it, in expectation of local availability soon without my paying massive overseas postage.

Politics

There can be various reasons for studios' withholding a film's release, including financial and artistic. There may also be political reasons.

This was always going to be a sensitive film to make and to market. Jews were rounded up for organised murder not by Adolf Eichmann's tiny handful of Germans in beautifully cut SS uniforms. This was done by fellow Hungarians, particularly by the efforts of the armed Arrow Cross militia, along with the Hungarian Gendarmerie and police, and the local authorities. That would be a hard one in any circumstances to explain to general audiences within the confines of a Hollywood movie.

This would have been hard enough four or five years ago when the film was being made, though it may be more sensitive still in the Spring of 2017, given the activities and the direction of the present Hungarian Government. One can hardly imagine a more provocative time to release a film depicting the fascistic and genocidal activities under the short-lived Hungarian governments of late 1944-early 1945  – though of course present circumstances in Hungary could yet deteriorate more, and the world wake up further to the direction of the regime of Viktor Orbán, the 'Great Viktator'.


Four or five years ago it would also have been hard enough for any film to deal sympathetically with Miklós Horthy. With the passing of time there is of course no harm in reappraising the life of any historical figure. Indeed, it may be desirable to do so. Again, however, 2017 is perhaps not the best time to be doing this do this for Miklós Horthy, given the emergence of something of a contentious public Horthy-cult in Hungary that is perhaps more related to present political trends rather than to a desire for historical fairness or accuracy.

I am sufficiently puzzled by the unexplained delay to this film's release to wonder how far the wait has been somehow 'political'. What is that new extension to its title about anyway – A hero emerges? Not Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum, surely? His heroism has been known of for years. Might this just possibly refer to Miklós Horthy?

I can hardly believe that. Can I?

For the moment, perhaps the studio hopes that the film will get an easier ride in the United States than in Europe and the United Kingdom.

Horse's mouth




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