Witman fiúk

Hungary

Synopsis

Hungary 1914 in a small town, The Witman brothers, János (14) and Ernő (12) are now raised by a young maid and their mother after their father's death. But the charming Mrs Witman is completely devoted to her lover, who already lives in the household ...

So the two sons choose to live in their own weird and violent world. János meets a prostitute who gives him all the tenderness, love and attention he- and his brother - desperately need. So he drags his brother off to the brothel, introduces him to the girl ... They both decide to offer her the only gift she deserves ... the rich beautiful pendant their mother usually wears.

Just like they sacrificed animals to exorcise their father's death, they will sacrifice their mother.

Premiered during the Hungarian Film Week in February (where it won the foreign critics' prize), Witman fiuk (The Witman Boys) is Janos Szasz's first film since his 1994 Best European Young Film award-winner, Woyzeck. Set in a small Hungarian town in 1914, it tells the chilling story of two boys, one 14, the other 12, who are left to their own resources when their father dies. They befriend the madam of a local brothel, but she soon tires of them and they begin to search for ever more extravagant gifts to maintain her friendship - a quest in which not even matricide seems to be an obstacle.

Director's Statement

My film THE WITMAN BOYS is adapted from a novel by Göza Csäth (1887 ¬1919), a Hungarian author, his contemporaries were Kafka and Musil. He was one of the most contradictory characters of the Hungarian literature before WWI. He was a neurologist, a writer and also a music critic.
Just before the war his writings were already forecasting its horrors - stories about souls condemned to hell.
As a neurologist he could feel his patients - and his own - guilty consciousness of the world.
As a writer he described a feverish bleak and apathetic inhuman world. He used to "dissect" his character's souls as a forensic surgeon would dissect corpses.
He was a disparate man and he committed suicide after he had killed his wife.
I was deeply impressed by the obvious insensibility and by the murderous behaviours of those two big Boys.
This total lack of consciousness reminds me of our own social reality ...
Those two different realities are cruel, insensitive and so wickedly indifferent ... - that they allow hatred and murder to achieve our deeds. Moreover, matricide is one of the worst crimes in the world.
So many murders during our historic evolution being probably a way to re-establish a failing order, a policy resuming life.
I wanted to describe one possible way leading to matricide trough the lack of relationships or even trough aberrant or moving ones mixing reality and a violent imaginary world together.
Showing violence itself was not my purpose ... I look for a peculiar rhythm, colours close to monochromy precisely for the audience to watch participate to and understand the images "from inside".
In that sense I feel very dose to Bergman’s and Tarkovski's films, they represent my ideal of film.
In THE WITMAN BOYS as in my previous films, I have been trying to re-create particular and fascinating atmospheres but I don't necessarily subscribe to them.
These atmospheres remind me of disturbing ones etched in our memories.
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: János Szász

Written by: Géza Csáth, András Szeredás

Cinematography: Tibor Mathé

Production Design: József Romváry

Costume Design: Ágnes Jodál

Main Cast: Szabolcs Gergely (Ernö Witman), Maia Morgenstern (Mrs Witman), Lajos Kovács (Mr Witman), Alpár Fogarasi (János Witman)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Cinematographer – Prix Carlo Di Palma 1997
  • Feature Film Selection 1997