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  • I haven't seen Angi Vera since its initial release, but I have always remembered its honesty and insight into how the institutionalization of ideals ultimately gets corrupted.

    Angi Vera, as a promising young woman, gets invited to a Communist training center to undergo the next level of indoctrination into Party life.

    She begins to realize how people get ahead in the Party: by saying things they don't mean but think are politically correct; by becoming friends with Party dignitaries, even if you don't like them; by being seen as a dedicated worker (as opposed to actually being a dedicated worker).

    I believe this experience has been felt by many, inside and outside politics, or the left, but also in church work, corporations, non-profit organizations, etc. Strong organizations with good leadership build in safeguards for toadyism that gets encouraged by mid-level teachers and managers.

    It's interesting this film was made under a Communist regime. I associate it with MAN OF MARBLE and MAN OF IRON, films with a similar theme—and an attack on Eastern Block Communist indoctrination and public relations, also made while Communists were still in power.

    The film is slow-moving, but very effective and subtle, and feels very authentic.
  • This movie shows the transformation of a young, brave rebel into a calculating Party apparatchik in Cold War Hungary. For anyone who views Communism as a tragedy, this is an unforgettable human illustration of how that tragedy happens
  • Warning: Spoilers
    All I can say about Angi Vera is that it has everything one can ask for in a film of this sort: vividly portrayed characters, historical accuracy and moral seriousness.

    While the nascent Soviet-imposed regime is shown in all of its horror, its characters are shown in full, without simplistic caricature, especially Angi Vera's apparatchik patron, whose background in the resistance to the Nazis just a few years earlier is given full expression. The period details are perfect, right down to the music on the gramophone. The lines spoken by the training school leaders consistently mimic the jargon to perfection: "If you are not going forward, you are going backward," etc., etc.

    The climactic scene where Angi Vera faces her former lover in one of those infamous self-criticism sessions is a scene that I'll take with me forever---the look on her face when she is reminded of the truth of their relationship, followed by the immediate recognition of the reality of the cross-examination she is undergoing, the hardening of the lines on her face, and the subsequent (and instant) abandonment of her better self---precisely the purpose of the session. All done within a few minutes, but those few minutes capture to perfection the essence of every "People's Democracy" in Eastern and Central Europe. As does the entire film.

    And the ending---understated but utterly horrifying in its implications. That this film could have been made in Hungary in the late 1970's was one of the surest signs that Communism was soon to be on the way out. I couldn't possibly recommend a movie more strongly than Angi Vera.
  • robert-temple-111 February 2017
    The first thing which needs to be explained before discussing the film is its title. Angi Vera is the name of an 18 year-old girl who is the lead character. In Hungary, as in China, the surname comes first, so the girl's first name is Vera and her surname is Angi. The performance of the young actress Vera Pap (Pap Vera in Hungary) is nothing short of miraculous. She speaks little, and she has some of the most expressive eyes of any actress, but she conveys everything just by being there in front of the camera. It is pure magic. It is a tragedy that this actress, who was 22 when she filmed this, died at the age of only 59. And the utterly brilliant director of this film, Pal Gabor (Gabor Pal in Hungary) died only 8 years after making this film, aged only 54. I have previously praised the amazing acting of Eva Szabo, who plays Maria Muskat (seen at the end on a bicycle). See my reviews of her performances in the three amazingly powerful autobiographical films by director Marta Meszaros in which she appears: DIARY FOR MY CHILDREN (1984), DIARY FOR MY LOVERS, which should really be translated DIARY FOR MY LOVES(1987), and NAPLO APAMNAK, ANYAMAK (DIARY FOR MY FATHER AND MOTHER; 1990). All of these films are works of the greatest genius, and Eva Szabo adds greatly to their power and effect. ANGI VERA certainly ranks with them as a triumph of cinematic art. I wish more films by these talented Hungarian directors were available with English subtitles. But in fact Hungarian cinema is barely known outside of Hungary, despite having been productive of some world-class cinematic masterpieces such as this one and the other three just mentioned. Other especially good performances in this film are by Erzsi Pasztor as Anna Trajan and Tamas Dunai as the teacher Istvan Andre Istvan, who falls in love with Angi Vera. The suffocating hothouse atmosphere of the three-month political re-education school, and the agonizing self-criticism sessions, are so real, you feel as you watch that you will be called upon next to criticise yourself and betray others. This story seems to be set in the early 1950s, since there is still so much talk about the characters' wartime exploits during the Nazi occupation, and mention of the years many of the characters have spent in prison. There is no mention at all of any national leaders or of any wider contemporary events. This film is restricted to an intensely harrowing portrayal of only what is happening just to this group of people during the three month period. It is as if there is no outside world, and that is what it must have felt like to all who went through these ordeals. The film is certainly one of the most realistic films I have ever seen. It is so powerful, it is like a Force of Nature. Watch it and be blown away.
  • Pál Gábor's "Angi Vera" (spelled Vera Angi when written western style*) tells a story that probably happened more than a few times in real life. The title character (Vera Pap) is a young woman working in a hospital in post-WWII Hungary. When she complains about the unsanitary conditions in the hospital, they send her to a re-education camp. In the camp, she falls in love with another prisoner (Tamás Dunai), while informers ensure that nothing will be pleasant in the camp.

    The main thing that I derived from "Angi Vera" is how little changed socially in Eastern Europe after WWII. As with the Nazis, the Soviet-backed governments were all about cronyism, resulting in inefficient industry and unsafe working conditions. In a way, it came full-circle into the US: Bush's appointment of a horse trainer as FEMA director -- in addition to moving FEMA to the Department of Homeland Security, thereby turning it into a bureaucratic nightmare -- resulted in Hurricane Katrina destroying New Orleans.

    Anyway, this is certainly a good movie. It's always important to keep this history alive, especially as cronyism and corruption persist the world over. Also starring Erzsi Pásztor, Éva Szabó, László Halász and László Horváth.

    *Hungary uses the East Asian name order, in which the family name goes in front. Unlike the East Asian countries, Hungarian names are reversed when written in other countries.
  • jeff-20113 April 1999
    Politics and love hardly ever mix, but those pesky filmmakers are always exploring it anyway. Angi is torn, typically, between her duty and her emotions. Her choice and her actions are at times surprising, but the film is generally bland, bleak, and maybe even boring. The characters are well developed, though, and to be honest I was interested to see what the end would have to offer.