Hukkle (2002)
September 14, 2023 6:08 AM - Subscribe

Using almost no dialogue, the film follows a number of residents (both human and animal) of a small rural community in Hungary - an old man with hiccups, a shepherdess and her sheep, an old woman who may or may not be up to no good...

But if you watch carefully, there is a murder mystery being played out right in front of you, or so I think. This is one of those movies that has stayed inside my head over the years.

I am going to quote a user review from IMDB:
This film challenges the idea that we need dialogue to define human interaction, or even interaction between humans, animals and the environment. There simply is no dialogue, just a bit of murmuring in the background and some singing near the end. It may sound boring, but isn't because you are constantly wondering what will happen next.

The movie covers the life of a small Hungarian village during the course of, more or less, one day. You see the people, the animals, underground, underwater, in the air, everything. Camera angles are exploited relentlessly to show every little thing, from a car door being unlocked to a fish striking at a swimming frog.

Because of the lack of dialoge, many things are up to the viewer's interpretation. One person may come up with a completely different view of what happened in the movie than another, even if they were watching it together. I watched this with my girlfriend, the red-haired queen of late night cinema, and we had a terrific argument over our differing opinions on what exactly had transpired in the movie. During the argument, she seized a burning stick from the fireplace and commenced beating me with it to emphasize her point, thereby proving the supremacy of a piece of wood over well-constructed film criticism.
And here's Roger Ebert in 2003:
Given its odd choices of perspective and subject, the movie has a point of view that is almost a character. "Hukkle" doesn't suggest, but I will, as a possible approach to the film, that the opening shot of the old man could be the first glimpse of earth life by this objective observer, which pokes here and there in the village, so that we -- who know what to look for and pick up on the clues -- know a murder has been committed, but to the observer all the images are equal. We have the knowledge to find meaning in a pattern, which the observer doesn't perceive. Since the hypothetical observer doesn't speak a human language, of course the movie doesn't much notice such sounds.
posted by vacapinta (3 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Hukkle was a memorable film for me too, though I would struggle to describe it to the uninitiated.

The director, Palfi, also co-created Final Cut: Ladies & Gentlemen, which is absolutely fantastic viewing for anyone who loves cinema or cinematic history.
posted by abraxasaxarba at 1:44 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

I keep meaning to do a day of all Hungarian films, possibly as part of a new series highlighting films from various countries.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:53 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

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