The Round-Up (1966 film)

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The Round-Up
The Round-Up dvd cover.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Miklós Jancsó
Written by Gyula Hernádi
Starring János Görbe
Zoltán Latinovits
Tibor Molnár
Cinematography Tamás Somló
Edited by Zoltán Farkas
Release date
  • January 6, 1966 (1966-01-06)
Running time
95 minutes
Country Hungary
Language Hungarian

The Round-Up (Hungarian: Szegénylegények, "Outlaws") is a 1966 Hungarian film directed by Miklós Jancsó. Well received in its home country, it was Jancsó's first film to receive international acclaim.

Today, many consider The Round-Up a classic of world cinema; it was selected to be screened in the Cannes Classics section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[1]


Following the quelling of Lajos Kossuth's 1848 revolution against Habsburg rule in Hungary, prison camps were set up for people suspected of being Kossuth's supporters. Around 20 years later, some members of highwayman Sándor Rózsa's guerrilla band, believed to be some of Kossuth's last supporters, are known to be interned among the prisoners in a camp. The prison staff try to identify the rebels and find out if Sándor is among them using various means of mental and physical torture and trickery. When one of the guerrillas, János Gajdar, is identified as a murderer by an old woman, he starts aiding his captors by acting as an informant. Gajdar is told that if he can show his captors a man who has killed more people than himself, he will be spared. Fearing for his life, he turns in several people his captors had been looking for by name, but could not identify among the prisoners.

Eventually Gajdar becomes an outcast among the prisoners, and is murdered at night by some of his fellow inmates while in solitary confinement. The prison guards easily discover suspects, people whose cells had been left unlocked for the night, and start interrogating them with hope of finding Sándor himself. The suspects are tricked into revealing the remaining guerrillas when they are given a chance to form a new military unit out of former bandits and informed that Sándor, who was not among the prisoners, has been pardoned. However, the celebrating guerrillas are then told that those who previously fought under him, will still face execution.



The Round-Up was produced by the Hungarian state film production company Mafilm.[2] It had a budget of 17 million forints, or around half a million US$ at the exchange rates of the time.[3] The screenplay was written by Hungarian author Gyula Hernádi, who Jancsó had met in 1959 and who was a frequent collaborator with the director until Hernádi's death in 2005. The film was shot in widescreen in black and white by another regular Jancsó collaborator, Tamás Somló.

The Round-Up does not exhibit many of Jancsó's trademark elements to the degree evident later: thus, the takes are comparatively short and although the camera movements are carefully choreographed they do not exhibit the elaborate fluid style that would become distinctive in later films. The film does, though, use Jancsó's favourite setting, the Hungarian puszta (steppe), shot in characteristically oppressive sunlight.[2] The film has little dialogue and rarely shows any emotion in its characters. It has been called by one critic as "a total absorption of content into form".[4]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was well received by audiences on its initial release in Hungary.[5] During its theatrical run, the film was seen by over a million people, in a country with a population of around ten million at the time.[6] The film was selected as the Hungarian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 39th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[7]

The Round-Up was Jancsó's first film to also receive international attention.[2] In 1966, it was the first of five films by the director to be entered in the competition category of the Cannes Film Festival, but failed to win any awards.[8] The brutal, dictatorial methods depicted in the film were read by local audiences as a partial allegory for the clampdown that happened following Hungary's failed 1956 uprising against Soviet Russia.[5] Therefore, before Jancsó was allowed to screen the film in Cannes, he had to make a declaration stating the film had nothing to do with the recent events in the country, even though he later said that "everybody knew it wasn't true".[6] Later in 1966, the film was released in the United Kingdom, and in 1969, it received a limited release in the United States.

The film was included in Béla Tarr's list of the 10 greatest films of all time submitted to the 2012 Sight & Sound poll,[9] as well as Derek Malcolm's The Century of Films, a list of 100 of the critic's favorite movies from the 20th century.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cannes Classics 2015". Cannes Film Festival. 29 April 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Thomas J. Slater (1992). Handbook of Soviet and East European Films and Filmmakers. Greenwood Press. pp. 236–238.
  3. ^ Andrew James Horton. "Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times – Márta Mészáros interviewed". Archived from the original on 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  4. ^ a b Derek Malcolm (2000-10-19). "Miklos Jancso: The Round-Up". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  5. ^ a b Krzysztof Rucinski. "Two men against history. A comparative analysis of films by Miklós Jancsó and Andrzej Wajda". Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  6. ^ a b Andrew James Horton. "This silly profession – Miklós Jancsó interviewed". Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  7. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  8. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Round-Up". Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  9. ^ "Béla Tarr's submission to 2012 Sight & Sound directors' poll".

External links[edit]