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Foreign Film - Hungary - The Witman Boys / Witman Fiuk


The Witman Boys / Witman Fiuk
Peter Andorai, Lajos Kovacs
Directed by Janos Szasz
Hungarian with English subtitles
Hungary 1997
Facets Video 2008
95 minutes

The Witman Boys / Witman Fiuk is a very odd horror-ish movie. The tone is very detached, observational, and all of the violence except for one instance is suggested. This is what makes this Hungarian DVD movie both interesting and hard to get into.

Set in Hungary in 1914, The Witman Boys is the story of teenagers Janos and Erno Witman who are pretty much left to their own devices once their father dies. Janos questions what are life and death and looks into it by performing dissections on various animals. Erno pretty much tags along in all this. Janos soon develops an interest in Iren, a local prostitute who is both a mother figure and an initiator into the world of sex. Eventually, Iren tires of the boys' interference in her life and demands they bring her some tokens of their appreciation. This leads to the final act and the only moment of on screen violence.

The question is what does it all mean? The Witman Boys / Witman Fiuk, because of its detached and glacial tone echoed in the photography, is a rather hermetic foreign film. The viewer is never quite sure what exactly set off Janos and what it is he is looking for when he performs his experiments on animals. There is also the fact his interest in vivisection is probably a result of a classroom experiment on frogs.

I have an interest in foreign movie DVDs but The Witman Boys was my first film from Hungary. Perhaps part of the lack of understanding is due to my being unfamiliar with this particular cinematic language but it really is a cold, distant film nonetheless.

Interesting, not memorable.

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